Diabetic retinopathy is a condition caused by blood vessel damage because of diabetes. The condition can result in symptoms such as blurred vision and eye floaters. If left untreated, it can lead to vision loss.
It is the leading cause of blindness in adults with diabetes. The condition does not usually exhibit symptoms in the early stages. A dilated eye exam can help detect the signs of the disease.
This is a condition that occurs due to high blood sugar levels. Over time, people with diabetes can have too much sugar in their blood. It can damage blood vessels in the body, including those in the eye retina. The light-sensitive retina covers the rear part of the eye. It helps detect light and transmits signals to the brain via the optic nerve.
When sugar blocks the blood vessels, it causes them to bleed or leak. Sometimes, new abnormal blood vessels grow that are weaker and leak more easily. It is known as proliferative diabetic retinopathy.
During the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, the patient may not realize they have the condition. Symptoms develop over time, and they affect both eyes. The symptoms include:
Poor night vision
Impaired color vision
Streaks or patches blocking the vision
Empty or dark spot in the vision
Sudden or total vision loss
Failing to treat diabetic retinopathy can lead to severe complications. Leaking blood vessels results in vitreous jelly filling the eye, a condition known as vitreous hemorrhage. In mild cases, this causes eye floaters, but in severe cases, it can lead to vision loss. If the retina is not damaged, vitreous hemorrhage can resolve itself.
Sometimes, diabetic retinopathy can result in a detached retina. It happens when scar tissue detaches the retina from the back of the eye. Without treatment, a detached retina can increase the risk of complete vision loss.
Anyone who has diabetes can develop diabetic retinopathy. However, the risk drastically increases if:
The patient has uncontrolled blood sugar levels
An individual has high cholesterol
The patient has high blood pressure
An individual is a smoker
The patient is pregnant
The individual has had diabetes for a long time
Treatment for the disease will depend on the stage or severity of the disease. During the early stages, the specialist may recommend monitoring the eyes closely or watchful waiting. During this period, the doctor will conduct dilated eye exams every two to four months.
Controlling blood sugar levels is vital to slow the development of the disease. Advanced stages will usually require surgery. Other treatment options are laser treatment, vitrectomy, and eye injections to reduce blood vessel swelling and leakage.
Early detection helps improve the effectiveness of treatment. An eye specialist can help detect the condition's signs and diagnose diabetic retinopathy. Making lifestyle changes can help control blood pressure and reduce cholesterol. Annual comprehensive eye exams are essential to prevent complications.
For more about the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, contact Studio Optix at our office in New York, New York. Call (212) 765-4444 to book an appointment today.