Diabetic Retinopathy

Frequently Asked Questions

7. How are diabetic retinopathy and macular edema detected?

Diabetic retinopathy and macular edema are detected during a comprehensive eye exam that includes a visual acuity test, dilated eye exam, and tonometry.

A visual acuity test is an eye chart test that measures how well you see at various distances.

In a dilated eye exam, drops are placed in your eyes to widen, or dilate, the pupils. Your eye care professional uses a special magnifying lens to examine your retina and optic nerve for signs of damage and other eye problems. After the exam, your close-up vision may remain blurred for several hours.

With tonometry, an instrument measures the pressure inside the eye. Numbing drops may be applied to your eye for this test.

During the dilated eye exam, your eye care professional checks your retina for early signs of the disease. Signs may include leaking blood vessels, retinal swelling, fatty deposits on the retina, damaged nerve tissue, or any changes to the blood vessels.

Watch an animation to see what a comprehensive dilated eye exam involves.

If your eye care professional believes you need treatment for macular edema, he or she may suggest a fluorescein angiogram.