Diabetic Retinopathy

Eyesight is one of our most valued and vulnerable senses. Without consistently clear eyesight, life slows and becomes increasingly difficult.

People who are already suffering from a physical disorder may already experience obstacles in functioning. For example, people with diabetes suffer from chronic physical symptoms due to the high levels of glucose in their bodies.

Additionally, they may also suffer from diabetic retinopathy. This eye disease occurs when abnormally high glucose levels from diabetes harm the retina's blood vessels. This is a dangerous condition because vessels can form on the retina, in addition to stopping the proper passage of blood. Ultimately, this can severely harm your sight. If ignored, diabetic retinopathy has the ability to cause serious vision loss or worse.

What is Diabetic Retinopathy ("DR")?

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease affecting the retina and is a frequent complication of diabetes. Diabetes damages the small blood vessels in the retina and can lead to poor vision and even blindness.

During the early stages, the tiny blood vessels in the eye weaken. The blood vessels develop small bulges that may burst and leak into the retina and into the gel-like fluid inside the eye called the vitreous gel. As the condition progresses, new fragile blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina, impairing vision. This is called proliferative retinopathy.

The Importance of Eye Examinations

If you currently have diabetes and are worried about developing diabetic retinopathy, the best way to prevent it is to have regular, thorough eye examinations. Even if you do not have symptoms like blurry vision, it is important to still schedule regular eye exams, while specifying that you have diabetes.

This will help eye doctors stay on guard for undetectable aspects of it. Through regular eye exams, they will be able to diagnose and treat early vision problems. This can help you hold onto your sight, and find the correct course of treatment for improving it.

While it is important to increase your amount of comprehensive eye examinations, it is not a guarantee that you will not develop an eye condition. It can only reduce your risk of severe eyesight loss, because you and your doctor will have caught the symptoms early.

Controlling Diabetic Retinopathy through Monitoring

Trying to reverse diabetes may stop the progression of diabetic retinopathy. This includes: taking your diabetes medication or insulin regularly, committing to a healthy, balanced diet, and engaging in regular exercise.

Numerous studies show that people who regulate their blood sugar levels through lifestyle changes and medication are less likely to have vision problems or eye disease. Maintaining blood sugar regularity is crucial to reversing diabetes. Decreasing cholesterol levels and blood pressure can also minimize it as well.

Comprehensive eye examinations may be frequently needed if you have diabetes. Vision treatment can even start when certain symptoms are minimal. It is best to take a proactive approach and monitor your eyesight with your doctor.

At New Vision Eye Center, eye specialists and doctors are ready to answer any questions you might have. Early warning signs may not be prominent, but it is best to voice your concerns and determine if treatment is necessary at that time.

What are the Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy?

As mentioned, the importance of frequent eye examinations is vital because it is possible to have it for a significant amount of time without noticing any symptoms. The dangerous aspects are that it does not cause noticeable symptoms until serious damage and complications have set in.

Symptoms may include:

  • Blurred or distorted vision or difficulty reading
  • Floaters or flashes of light in your field of vision
  • Partial or total loss of vision or a shadow or veil across your field of vision
  • Pain in the eye

If you have diabetes, and any of these symptoms appear for the first time, call your doctor immediately.

Who does Diabetic Retinopathy Affect?

The risk of developing diabetic retinopathy depends largely on two factors, how long one has had diabetes and what type of diabetes one has. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to develop the disease. In addition, people with Type I diabetes (juvenile onset) are more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy than people with Type II diabetes (adult onset).

How to Avoid Diabetic Retinopathy?

Help avoid damage to the retina by keeping blood sugar and blood pressure levels near normal. This can slow the progress of retinopathy and prevent vision loss. Have an eye exam by an eye doctor every year. Screening for diabetic retinopathy and other eye problems will not prevent diabetic eye disease, but it can help you avoid vision loss by allowing for early detection and treatment.

See an eye doctor immediately if changes in your vision occur. Changes in vision such as floaters, flashes of light, pain or pressure in the eye, blurry or double vision may be symptoms of serious damage to the retina. In most cases, the sooner the problem can be treated, the more effective the treatment will be.

How is Diabetic Retinopathy Treated?

There is no cure for diabetic retinopathy. However, laser treatment (photocoagulation) can be very effective at preventing vision loss if it is done before the retina has been severely damaged.

Newer treatments also include the use of Avastin and Triescence to treat abnormal vessel growth and leakage.

If you currently have diabetes, and are experiencing symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, call our world class eye care center today at 772-257-8700 to schedule an appointment.

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While our facilities are located in Vero Beach, we proudly serve patients from the surrounding areas of Fort Pierce, Palm Bay, Barefoot Bay, Sebastian and Okeechobee.