David R. Benson, M.D., O.D.

David R. Benson, M.D., O.D., Eye Physicians of Lakewood

Caring for you, not just your eyes

Telephone: 253-584-1777

Eye Services

Dr. Benson's practice emphasis is on treatment of glaucoma, diabetic eye dises, macular degeneration, dry eye, and other eye problems in addition to providing quality eye care to all ages.

Eye Care Services at Eye Physicians of Lakewood

Meet Dr. Benson

Dr. Benson is both types of eye doctors: Optometrist AND Ophthalmologist. Practicing with the motto, "Caring for you, not just your eyes," he has been attending to his patients for more than 25 years.

Meet Dr. Benson at Eye Physicians of Lakewood

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FAQs about Eye Care at Eye Physicians of Lakewood

Diabetic Retinopathy

What is diabetic retinopathy?

Though we often think of diabetes as a disease of elevated blood sugar but it is also a disease of small blood vessels. Diabetic retinopathy is the manifestation of the blood vessel disease in the retina. (The retina is the light-sensing, nerve layer in the back of the eye.) The damaged blood vessels may leak, or develop fragile brush-like branches that can hemorrhage (bleed) and cause scaring.


If your sugars are fluctuating your glasses may fluctuate too. It is not uncommon for brittle diabetics to have a handful of different glasses prescriptions. It is really quite important that you understand your disease and control your sugars for many reasons. Recent studies have shown that if you keep your sugars to around 110 and your hemoglobin A1c in the normal range (tight control) you may be able to reduce the risk of getting retinopathy by 70%!

This risk of developing diabetic retinopathy increases the longer a person has diabetes.
About 80% of people with at least a 15-year history of diabetes have some blood vessel damage evidenced in the retina. The onset of diabetes cannot be accurately determined in the "Adult Onset" type of diabetes because of its slow and insidious nature. The Adult Onset diabetic, though having a relatively milder form of diabetes than the “Juvenile Onset” type, may therefore actually have an earlier perceived onset of Diabetic Retinopathy.


Background Retinopathy is an early stage of diabetic retinopathy. In this stage, fine blood vessels within the retina become narrowed or obstructed while others enlarge to form small balloon-like sacs called micro-aneurysms. These altered blood vessels leak, causing retinal swelling, deposits or hemorrhages. The smallest blood vessels, the capillaries, can even close off completely. Usually sight is not seriously affected unless the macula is threatened.

The macula is a small area directly in the back of the eye. It is the only area that sees sharp detail. The rest of the retina is important for peripheral. Studies have shown that if treated at the appropriate time, edema threatening the macula can often be reversed and sight may be preserved or improved.

Proliferative retinopathy refers to the proliferation (growth) of new blood vessels from the retina or optic nerve. These new blood vessels are abnormal and fragile. They can easily hemorrhage. The hemorrhage can block the vision if the blood is in front of the macula or in the long term proceed to contraction and severe vision loss. Proliferative retinopathy may be treatable, usually with the laser, especially if caught in the early phases. Abnormal blood vessels may also grow on the iris and cause a severe glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye). This growth may start in a hidden area called the "angle". The only way to see the angle is with a test called "gonioscopy". Proliferative retinopathy is the most serious form of retinopathy and affects up to 20% of diabetics.


Symptoms of even severe diabetic retinopathy can be absent up until it breaks loose with devastating results. As such, I strongly urge all diabetics to have at least annual eye examinations. This examination should include dilation of the eye and may include gonioscopy.

You really cannot be sure of what is happening without an exam. Usually if the doctor tells you that you are OK at the exam you should remain that way but there is a small subset of diabetics that can have rapidly progressive retinopathy. If your vision becomes blurry or you suspect a problem, do call right away. I would rather have a false alarm than risk missing a window of opportunity for effective treatment.