Diabetic Retinopathy: What You Need to Know

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. People who have diabetes for a long time and have a harder time controlling their blood sugar are most at risk. Usually, diabetic retinopathy starts off with no symptoms or mild vision problems. However, as the condition progresses, it can lead to leaking blood vessels, retinal detachment, glaucoma and vision loss.

If you or someone close to you has diabetes, it’s normal to be concerned about developing diabetic retinopathy. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about this condition and how to reduce your risk.

What Causes Diabetic Retinopathy?

When you have too much sugar in your blood, the blood vessels that nourish the retina can become blocked. This means that your retina isn’t getting the same nourishment, which prompts the body to make new blood vessels that end up leaking.

There are two types of diabetic retinopathy:

Early diabetic retinopathy. Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy is most common and occurs when the blood vessels weaken. Sometimes, the protruding blood vessels leak fluid and blood into the retina.

Advanced diabetic retinopathy. As the condition progresses, it turns into a more advanced form of diabetic retinopathy – proliferative diabetic retinopathy. The damaged blood vessels close off and new blood vessels form, leaking fluid into the vitreous. Eventually, scar tissue can develop and lead to retinal detachment.

What are the Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy?

Not everyone has symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. However, as the condition progresses, the symptoms that people usually notice in both eyes are:

-Spots or floaters

-Blurred vision

-Impaired color vision

-Dark or empty areas

-Fluctuating vision

-Vision loss

How to Reduce Your Risk for Diabetic Retinopathy

If you have diabetes, your doctor will probably want to see you more often. Anyone who has diabetes can develop diabetic retinopathy, so the best thing you can do is manage your diabetes and see your eye doctor each year. Unfortunately, diabetic retinopathy cannot always be prevented.

Here are the best steps you can take to reduce your risk for diabetic retinopathy.

-Manage your diabetes

-Monitor blood sugar

-Keep blood pressure in check

-Keep cholesterol in check

-Quit smoking

-Pay attention to vision changes

-See your doctors regularly

Diabetic retinopathy is a serious condition that can lead to glaucoma, retinal detachment and blindness. Taking control of your diabetes is the best way to prevent these complications. We also recommend seeing a retina specialist to ensure your retina is healthy and well-nourished. To schedule your appointment, call Empire Retina Consultants today.