VISN 2 Diseases and Conditions - Digital Retinal Screening - New York/New Jersey VA Health Care Network
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New York/New Jersey VA Health Care Network


VISN 2 Diseases and Conditions - Digital Retinal Screening

What You Can Do
Studies have shown that people who keep their blood sugar under good control tend to have fewer vision problems.

It is important that you work with your primary care provider to keep your blood sugar in a healthy range. Proper diet, exercise, controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol also prevents damage to the blood vessels in your eyes.

Smoking has also been shown to be a risk factor for many eye conditions including diabetic retinopathy. It is important to not smoke if you have diabetes.

Speak with your primary care provider if you have questions.

What Is Digital Retinal Screening?
Digital Retinal Screening uses advanced technology to take a picture of your eye. The purpose of this screening is to find problems before they cause vision loss. Early treatment leads to better vision.

Digital Retinal Screening uses high resolution digital color photography to take a picture of the inside of your eyes. The color photographs are taken with a special retinal camera that shows detailed images of your retinas. These images can show abnormalities that may threaten normal vision.

Anatomy of the Eye
The eye works like a camera. Light goes in through the front, gets focused by the lens, and is received by the retina. The retina is like the film in the camera that sends the image to the brain.

The Screening Process
You might be given drops to dilate your eyes for these photographs. The technician or nurse will sit you in front of the retinal camera with your chin and forehead resting comfortably in a guide. You will experience a flash similar to having your picture taken with a flash camera. The entire process will only take a few minutes.

The images are transmitted to an ophthalmologist or optometrist for interpretation. The ophthalmologist or optometrist will inform your primary care provider of the results. If any abnormalities are found, you will be notified so you can have a complete, dilated eye exam.

Diabetic Retinopathy
Many tiny blood vessels supply the retina with nutrients. Diabetes often affects these tiny blood vessels, causing them to leak, bleed, or break. When they leak, extra fluid can build up and cause the retina to swell. When the blood vessels break or bleed, blood can build up either in the retina or in front of the retina. This can block your vision and affect how you see. This is called diabetic retinopathy. If needed, it can be treated with lasers or medication.
senior vet couple
image of normal retina
image of Eye with Diabetic Retinopathy

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  vet getting eye exam

Digital Retinal Screening
for Patients with Diabetes

Digital retinal imaging is a useful method of screening for diabetic retinopathy. It does not replace a complete eye exam.

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