The retina (nerves at the back of your eye) needs a continual supply of blood and nutrients to stay healthy. If the blood vessels that supply blood to the retina begin to deteriorate and leak fluid and blood into the retinal tissue, the health of the retina is put in jeopardy.
The condition of diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes. It is estimated that over 25% of diabetics have some form of this disease. It is the leading cause of blindness in adults with diabetes.
Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
In the early stages, a patient with diabetic retinopathy may not know that damage is occurring because there are no outward symptoms. This increases the importance for diabetics to have regular eye exams that will identify these silent diseases; treatment can then be started that can slow progression of the disease.
In the later stages, diabetic retinopathy can cause:
- Vision loss
- Blurry vision
- Dark spots, strings or floaters in the vision
- Color perception difficulties
- Retinal detachment
- Vitreous hemorrhage (the jelly-like substance that fills the eye)
Causes of Diabetic Retinopathy
Elevated blood sugar levels can damage or even completely block the blood vessels that nourish the retina. This can occur in either Type I or Type II diabetics in Phoenix. Other risk factors for diabetic retinopathy include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tobacco usage and pregnancy.
Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy
Lifestyle changes to control blood sugar levels will dramatically reduce the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. It can also help to slow the progression of the disease.
If you have been diagnosed with the disease, treatment will depend on the severity of your condition. Treatment may include:
- Vitrectomy to remove blood from the vitreous area of the eye
- Focal laser treatment to slow or halt the leakage of blood in the eye
- Scatter laser treatment to shrink abnormal blood vessels
If you are diabetic and are not having regular eye exams, schedule one today at Associated Retina Consultants. We can help you stay proactive with your eye health and preserve your vision for as long as possible.