Diabetic retinopathy is a severe diabetes complication that affects the retina. It can cause vision loss and blindness untreated.


Symptoms

 


Diabetic retinopathy's early stages may not cause any symptoms, which is why regular eye exams are essential for people with diabetes. As it progresses, symptoms may include:
 

  • Blurred eyesight

  • Fluctuating sight

  • Empty or dark areas in your field of vision

  • Difficulty seeing colors

  • Vision loss


 

Causes

 


High blood sugar levels cause diabetic retinopathy. They can damage the blood vessels in the retina. Over time, the blood vessels may swell and start leaking fluid or become blocked. As a result, it can cause the growth of new retina blood vessels. These are fragile and can easily bleed. It can further damage the retina.


Treatment Options

 


The goal of treatment for diabetic retinopathy is to help stop the condition from getting worse and prevent vision loss. Treatment options include:
 

  • Laser therapy - It involves using a laser to seal leaking blood vessels and shrink the new ones.

  • Injections - Injections of medications such as anti-VEGF drugs can stop the growth of blood vessels and reduce inflammation.

  • Surgery - In some cases, surgery may remove blood from the eye, repair a detached retina, or correct other complications.

  • Close monitoring - Regular eye exams are essential to detect and monitor diabetic retinopathy. Patients with diabetic retinopathy should see their ophthalmologist or optometrist as often as instructed.

  • Strict blood sugar control - Maintaining a healthy blood sugar level through diet, exercise, and medications can help slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy and prevent loss of sight.


 

Who is at Risk for Diabetic Retinopathy?

 


Anyone with diabetes can get diabetic retinopathy. However, some factors can increase the risk. The risk is higher for people with diabetes for a long time. The longer a person has diabetes, the bigger the chance of developing diabetic retinopathy.

You are also vulnerable if you have poor blood sugar control. People with uncontrolled diabetes have a higher risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. High blood pressure can damage blood vessels in the retina, increasing the risk of diabetic retinopathy.

Obese or overweight people are more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy. You are also at high risk if you have a history of smoking. Smokers have a higher risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Pregnant women with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, especially during the third trimester.


Complications

 


Advanced diabetic retinopathy can cause several complications. You can develop macular edema, the swelling of part of the retina responsible for central vision. Macular edema can cause vision loss and blindness.

Some people get vitreous hemorrhage. It happens when the blood vessels in the retina bleed, causing blood to fill the vitreous, the gel-like substance filling the inside of the eye. It can cause vision loss and blindness.

You can also get retinal detachment. It occurs when the retina pulls from the back of your eye. It can cause vision loss and blindness. A cataract is also another complication that arises. People with diabetic retinopathy are at an increased risk of developing cataracts, a clouding of the eye lens that can cause vision loss.

Diabetic retinopathy is a severe condition that can cause vision loss and blindness. Early detection and prompt treatment can aid in preventing these complications.


Prevention

 


There are steps people with diabetes can take to reduce their risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. They can strictly monitor and maintain healthy blood sugar levels, control blood pressure, and quit smoking. They must eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and go for regular eye exams.

For more about diabetic retinopathy, visit My Vision at our office in Center Valley, Pennsylvania. Call (484) 265-9100 to book an appointment today.

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