An estimated 1 in 10 Americans has diabetes, making it one of the most prevalent conditions in the country today. Unfortunately, diabetes is also a leading cause of adult blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that can develop as a complication of diabetes. Here, we’ll discuss diabetic retinopathy and how it can impact patients’ ocular health.
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that develops when high blood sugar injures the blood vessels in the retina. The retina is a thin tissue lining the back of the eye that contains a high volume of light-sensitive cells and is crucial to vision.
Type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes are all risk factors for diabetic retinopathy. Having high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking can also increase your risk of developing this condition.
Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy
There are two key stages of diabetic retinopathy: early and advanced.
In its early stages, diabetic retinopathy often doesn’t cause symptoms. However, pouches may form in the blood vessel walls of the retina, leading to the leakage of fluids, including blood. This can cause swelling in the macula, which can lead to fluctuating vision.
When diabetic retinopathy reaches the advanced stage, new blood vessels start to develop in the retina. The new vessels tend to be weak and may bleed into the substance between the retina and the lens, known as the vitreous.
The symptoms of diabetic retinopathy in its late stages may include:
- Fluctuating changes in vision
- Strings or spots floating in vision
- Blurred vision
- Dark areas of vision
- Vision loss
Early exams, treatment, and blood sugar control can help prevent vision loss from diabetic retinopathy. There are also numerous treatment options for this condition, including Iridex micropulse lasers, implants, and medicines.
Dr. Mahootchi at The Eye Clinic of Florida has been a Type 1 diabetic for more than 35 years. He has a unique interest and perspective in helping diabetic patients prevent vision loss. Contact us today to schedule an eye exam and learn more about our treatment options.