What Are the Causes and Risk Factors for Diabetic Retinopathy?

Living with diabetes involves paying attention to several key aspects of your health, and your eyes are one of the areas of your body where high blood sugar can have a significant impact upon your quality of life. Preserving your vision allows you to enjoy seeing your grandchildren’s faces as you age. Or, perhaps your biggest goal is to continue to maintain your athletic skills as you get older. Either way, it’s important to know how to prevent diabetic retinopathy from limiting your ability to see when you have diabetes.

What Causes Diabetic Retinopathy?

The high blood sugar levels that occur with diabetes can impact the blood vessels in your eye. Early diabetic retinopathy involves the thread-like vessels in your retina weakening and beginning to leak fluid into your eye, which can cause macular swelling and interfere with your ability to see clearly.

Without treatment, the condition can progress to your eye forming abnormal blood vessels as the old ones close off. These new blood vessels are even weaker, and they are prone to leaking more fluid into your eye’s vitreous fluid. The treatments that eye specialists use to slow down or halt the progression of this condition are typically aimed at addressing abnormal blood vessel growth and keeping excess fluids out of your eye tissue.

What Are Risk Factors for Diabetic Retinal Conditions?

Your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy increases the longer you’ve had diabetes. Someone with Type 1 diabetes that was diagnosed in childhood will naturally have had longer for their retinas to develop changes in their vascular structure. If you engage in other activities that also affect your blood vessels, such as smoking, then you are also at higher risk of developing retinal issues.

One of the best things you can do for your eyesight is to monitor your blood sugar to keep it within normal levels. Following that, making other changes to your lifestyle, such as lowering your blood pressure and quitting smoking, can also help you to avoid retinal neovascularization or the abnormal growth of blood vessels in your eyes.

When Should You Consult With An Ophthalmologist?

Approximately, one in four people with diabetes have some degree of diabetic retinopathy. After you’ve consulted with a physician regarding your diabetes, your next step needs to be seeing a retinal disease specialist in Brooklyn that can take baseline images of your overall eye health.

Using these images, your eye care provider can then identify early signs of damage to the blood vessels in your retina. They can also set you up with a treatment plan to address any issues that have already occurred while discussing ways to prevent future changes to your eye health.

Your eyesight is too precious to leave to chance. Even if you don’t have a diabetes diagnosis, you should still keep up with routine eye exams that could detect changes in your retina’s vascular structure early on. If you do have diabetes, then let your eye specialist know when you come to our clinic. After a comprehensive exam, you’ll have a better view of what you can do to be proactive about addressing your risk for developing diabetic retinopathy.