Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition caused by high blood sugar levels that damage the back of the eye (retina). Left untreated, it can make people lose their vision or might result in blindness.
If you have diabetes, you should get a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year. At first, diabetic retinopathy may not show any signs. It usually takes several years for diabetic retinopathy to progress to the point where it threatens your vision. Early detection can help protect your eyesight.
Taking care of your diabetes by staying active, eating a healthy diet, and taking your medicine can also help you keep your eyesight or keep it from getting worse.
Other types of eye disease caused by diabetes:
Diabetic retinopathy is the main reason why people with diabetes lose their sight. However, diabetes can also make it more likely that you will get several other eye problems:
If you have diabetes, you have a high chance of getting cataracts and are more likely to get them at a younger age.
Diabetes nearly doubles your risk of getting open-angle glaucoma, a type of glaucoma.
Diabetic Retinopathy Symptoms
Most of the time, there are no symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. Some people notice changes in their eyesight, such as having trouble reading or seeing things far away. Changes like these might come and go.
In the later stages of the disease, the retina’s blood vessels start to bleed into the vitreous. If this happens, you might see dark spots or lines that move around and look like spider webs. Sometimes the spots go away on their own, but it’s essential to get treatment right away. Scars can form in the back of the eye if they are not taken care of. In addition, blood vessels may bleed again, or the bleeding may worsen.
Problems caused by diabetic retinopathy
Diabetes can lead to other serious eye problems, such as:
Diabetic macular edema (DME)
About 1 in every 15 people with diabetes will get DME over time. When blood vessels in the retina leak fluid into the macula, this is called DME (a part of the retina needed for sharp, central vision). This makes it hard to see.
Diabetes can cause blood vessels to grow in the retina. This can stop fluid from draining out of the eye and leads to glaucoma (a group of eye diseases that can cause vision loss and blindness).
Scars can form in the back of your eye if you have diabetic retinopathy. It’s called tractional retinal detachment, when the scars pull your retina away from the back of your eye.
Do I have a chance of getting diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy can happen to anyone with diabetes, whether they have type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes (a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy).
The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you will get sick. More than half of people with diabetes will get diabetic retinopathy at some point. The good news is that you can control your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. and lower your risk of diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy is common in women with diabetes who become pregnant or develop gestational diabetes. If you have diabetes and are pregnant, you should check your eyes immediately. Ask your doctor if you’ll need more eye checks while pregnant.
What causes retinopathy in people with diabetes?
High blood sugar from diabetes is what causes diabetic retinopathy. Too much sugar in your blood can damage your retina. The retina is part of your eye that senses light and sends signals to your brain through a nerve in the back of your eye (optic nerve).
When sugar blocks the tiny blood vessels that go to your retina, they start to leak fluid or bleed. This damages your eyes. Your eyes then grow new blood vessels that do not work well to balance the blocked ones. It is easy for these new blood vessels to leak or bleed.
How to ensure I do not have diabetic retinopathy?
As part of a dilated eye exam, an eye doctor can check for diabetic retinopathy. The exam is easy and doesn’t hurt. Your optometrist will give you some eye drops to widen your pupil and prevent your eyes from diabetic retinopathy and other eye problems.
Getting a regular eye exam is very important, especially if you have diabetes. If you get diabetic retinopathy, getting treatment as soon as possible can prevent big damage to your eyes.
If your eye doctor thinks you might have severe diabetic retinopathy or DME, they may do a test called a fluorescein angiogram. The eye doctor can take pictures of your retina’s blood vessels with this test.
Everyone with diabetes over 12 should do an eye exam at least once a year.
If you develop any of the following symptoms, contact your eye doctor or diabetes care team right away:
- Gradually deteriorating eyesight
- Vision loss
- Blurred or patchy vision
- Eye pain
- Red Eyes
- Trouble seeing in the dark
Preventing Diabetic Retinopathy
The best way to lower your risk of diabetic retinopathy is to take care of your diabetes. That means making sure your blood sugar is in a reasonable range. You can do this by staying active, eating well, and following your doctor’s instructions for your insulin or other diabetes medicines.
An A1C test is a lab test you’ll need to ensure your diabetes treatment plan is working. This test tells you how high your blood sugar has been on average over the past three months. You and your doctor can work together to set an A1C goal. If you meet your A1C goal, it can help you avoid or deal with diabetic retinopathy.
If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, you are more likely to get diabetic retinopathy. So keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol in check can also help lower your risk of losing your eyesight.
How do you treat DME and diabetic retinopathy?
When diabetic retinopathy is in its early stages, your eye doctor will probably monitor how your eyes are doing. Some people with diabetic retinopathy may need a complete, dilated eye exam as often as every 2 to 4 months.
In the later stages, it’s essential to start treatment as soon as possible, especially if your vision changes. Treatment can keep your eye from getting worse, but it can’t fix any existing damage. Controlling your diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol is a must.
Diabetic retinopathy can be slowed down or even fixed with anti-VEGF drugs. Corticosteroids are another type of medicine that can help.
Surgery on the eyes
A vitrectomy is a type of surgery that may be suggested by your eye doctor if your retina bleeds a lot or if your eye has a lot of scars.
Use of a laser
Eye doctors can use lasers to shrink the blood vessels in your retina and stop bleeding so that the swelling goes down.
Diabetic retinopathy does not typically show symptoms in the early stages; however, if not diagnosed and treated properly, the condition can result in permanent blindness. Screening can detect problems in your eyes before they affect your vision; if problems are detected early, treatment can help prevent or reduce vision loss.
An annual eye exam is the best way to keep your good eyesight. Make an appointment with our optometrist at the Walmart Vision Center Crystal Lake, IL or Walmart Vision Center Harvard, IL.
We provide quality eye care in Crystal Lake, Woodstock, Harvard, Illinois and surrounding communities.
Walmart Vision Center Crystal Lake, IL
Walmart Vision Center Harvard, IL
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