Signs of Diabetic Retinopathy
Individuals with diabetes can suffer from an eye condition known as diabetic retinopathy. The disease occurs when uncontrolled sugar levels damage the retina's blood vessels. The blood vessels swell and leak, sometimes close, preventing blood from getting through. In some cases, abnormal blood vessels grow, leading to vision loss. The condition may not exhibit symptoms in the initial stages. Read on to find out the signs of diabetic retinopathy.
Causes of Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when too much sugar in the blood causes blockage of the retina blood vessels. The tiny vessels are responsible for nourishing the retina. Blockage cuts off blood supply, causing the eye to attempt to grow new vessels. The new vessels are abnormal, do not develop properly, and leak easily, resulting in diabetic retinopathy.
Signs of Diabetic Retinopathy
Most people do not realize they have diabetic retinopathy because the early stage usually does not present symptoms. As the disease worsens, they can notice several symptoms. Signs include:
Seeing increasing floaters.
Frequent vision changes.
Seeing dark or blank areas in the field of vision.
Colors appear faded.
Experiencing poor night vision.
Losing vision or blindness.
Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetes retinopathy develops in two stages—NPDR, or non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy, and PDR, or proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Non-proliferative retinopathy is the early stage of the disease when the leaking of tiny blood vessels causes the retina to swell.
The retina blood vessels are blocked, causing blood not to reach the macula. PDR is an advanced form of the disease, occurring when new blood vessels start to grow (neovascularization). The abnormal vessels often bleed, blocking the vision and forming scar tissue, leading to a detached retina.
Treating Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes. Eye specialists often diagnose the disease during an eye exam. Treatment is based on the results of the exam. Controlling blood sugar and blood pressure using prescribed medications and recommended diet can help treat the condition.
Other treatment options include using anti-VEGF medication to reduce macula swelling and laser surgery to seal or shrink blood vessels. Doctors may recommend a vitrectomy for patients with advanced PDR. This surgical procedure removes the blood and vitreous gel in the eye.
Preventing Vision Loss From Diabetic Retinopathy
There are ways to prevent vision loss from the disease. They include:
Controlling blood sugar levels.
Treating or managing high blood pressure and kidney problems.
Getting regular dilated eye exams to detect the early signs of the disease.
Contacting your eye specialist immediately if you notice any vision changes.
Get prompt treatment to prevent vision loss.
Treatment can slow the condition's deterioration, but there is no cure for diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes is a lifelong condition that should be managed appropriately to prevent complications. The longer an individual has diabetes, the higher the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Future retinal damage is always possible. Regular eye exams are vital for people with diabetes.
For more on signs of diabetic retinopathy, visit Maple Eye and Laser Center at our office in Manhattan or White Plains, New York. Call 914-948-5157 to book an appointment today.