A serious complication of diabetes that can lead to blindness.
Vision Source Insight Eyecare provides early detection and treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy patients located in Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Buckhead and Atlanta.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-third of adults over the age of 40 with diabetes have diabetic retinopathy. And the rates are even higher among African- and Mexican-Americans.
Dr. David Sweeney from Vision Source Insight Eyecare urges all diabetics to have their eyes examined at least once per year. Early detection is key to Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment. Call today or schedule an appointment online online for a comprehensive eye exam.
What is diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a general term for all disorders of the retina caused by diabetes. There are two major types of retinopathy: nonproliferative and proliferative.
This is the most common form of retinopathy and is characterized by increased levels of blood sugar in diabetic patients causing damage to the tiny blood vessels in the retina, the part of the eye that captures and sends images to the brain. When these vessels become blocked or damaged, it can result in blood and fluid leakage into the part of the eye where focusing occurs, the macula. When the macula swells with fluid, a condition called macular edema occurs and vision can decrease significantly.
In some people, retinopathy progresses to a more serious form called……
In this form, the blood vessels are so damaged, they close off. In response, new blood vessels start growing into the dying retinal tissues. These new vessels are weak and can leak blood, blocking vision, which is a condition called vitreous hemorrhage. The new blood vessels can also cause scar tissue to grow. After the scar tissue shrinks, it can distort the retina or pull it out of place—causing what is called “retinal detachment.”
What are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?
Like many other eye conditions, diabetic retinopathy often causes few (if any) symptoms in the early stages. You may only notice minor vision issues that could be attributed to other causes. Left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can lead to blindness.
Due to the fact that anyone who has type 1 or type 2 diabetes can develop diabetic retinopathy, it’s important to have regular comprehensive eye exams.
The disease typically affects both eyes. As it gets worse, you may notice symptoms such as:
- Empty or dark areas within your line of vision
- Fluctuating vision
- Dark strings and/or spots (i.e. floaters) in your vision
- Loss of vision
- Reduction in color vision
Management of your diabetes under the care of a primary care physician or endocrinologist — with a treatment plan that includes regular visits to the eye doctor — is the best way to prevent loss of vision.
Even if you are seeing your eye doctor on a yearly basis as recommended, if you notice the sudden appearance of the symptoms noted above, make an appointment right away.
What complications arise from diabetic retinopathy?
Because diabetic retinopathy causes the retina’s blood vessels to bleed and grow abnormally, vision problems are common. You could experience one or more of the following complications:
The centers of your eyes are filled with a jelly-like substance that’s clear. Blood vessels formed by diabetic retinopathy could leak into this vitreous jelly and cause floaters or even block your vision completely.
The presence of abnormal blood vessels encourages the growth of scar tissue in the retina. This could pull the retina away from its position at the back of your eye. Common symptoms of a retinal detachment include flashes of light, severe loss of vision and/or spots floating in your vision.
If the abnormal blood vessels that mark the presence of diabetic retinopathy grow into your eye’s front area, they could block the normal flow of fluid from your eye. The result could be glaucoma which is an increase in the eye’s pressure. You might experience damage to the optic nerve if it’s left untreated.
Over time, diabetic retinopathy, or its complications, could cause you to completely lose your ability to see.
At Vision Source Insight Eyecare, we are committed to helping our patients enjoy exceptional vision throughout their lifetime. Call us today or schedule an appointment online to learn more about diabetic retinopathy and how we can help.