What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a medical term used to describe progressive damage to the retina in a person who is diabetic. Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness in the United States.

What are the Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy?

  • Initially, there are very few symptoms associated with early diabetic retinopathy
  • Blurry vision
  • Dark/Empty spot in the center of view
  • Spots/Floaters in your view
  • Difficulty seeing at night

How Common is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is common in the United States. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they are to develop diabetic retinopathy. Some risk factors for diabetic retinopathy include:

  • Diabetes
  • Hispanic and African Americans
  • High blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.
  • Pregnancy

What Causes Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetes is a disease that results in too much sugar being in the blood. This excess sugar can lead to damage throughout the body, including the eyes.

Diabetic retinopathy is the result of damage to the small blood vessels that provide nutrition to the retina. The vessels begin to leak fluids, which leads to swelling and blurry vision. New blood vessels can also begin to grow in an attempt to improve circulation, which can further damage vision.

When does Diabetic Retinopathy Occur?
Diabetic retinopathy can occur at any point in a person who has diabetes. Better blood sugar control can delay the onset and severity.

How is Diabetic Retinopathy Diagnosed?
Diagnosing diabetic retinopathy begins with a comprehensive eye exam at Shanks Family Eye Care

. During this exam, your doctor uses tests to evaluate the appearance and health of your retina. In additional to your exam, your doctor may use technology such as retinal photography or fluorescein angiography to better evaluate your retina for problems.

It is crucial that people with diabetes receive a comprehensive eye exam annually. Early detection is critical for the possibility of prevent vision loss.

How is Diabetic Retinopathy Treated?
Diabetic retinopathy is treated based on severity.  Some examples of treatment include:

  • Laser surgery to seal leaky blood vessels
  • Injections of medications into the eye to decrease inflammation

The best way to prevent diabetic retinopathy is to continually manage your diabetes

  • Take prescribed medication
  • Stick to a diabetic diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Control blood pressure and avoid smoking
  • See your eye doctor annually for a comprehensive eye exam

Diabetic Retinopathy Resources

National Institute of Health: http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/diabetic/retinopathy.asp