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What Does a Person with Diabetic Retinopathy See?

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that affects the retina in those with diabetes, including gestational diabetes as well as type 1 and type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes, risk factors for diabetic retinopathy can include pregnancy, hypertension, uncontrolled blood sugar, hyperlipidemia, high blood pressure and smoking. Without treatment, diabetic retinopathy can lead to low vision, vision loss or permanent blindness. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to develop diabetic retinopathy. 

In the initial stages of diabetic retinopathy, patients are generally asymptomatic. As the eye condition progresses, blood vessels in the retina are weakened or damaged leading to poor blood flow, inflammation and vision changes. A person with diabetic retinopathy will see changes in the form of blurred or distorted vision, color blindness or seeing colors as faded, poor night vision, eye floaters, streaks in vision and difficulty reading or seeing faraway objects. 

There are 2 stages of diabetic retinopathy: non-proliferative retinopathy and proliferative retinopathy. In the non-proliferative, early stage, of diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels begin to swell and leak into the retina, manifesting as either fluid, hemorrhaging or lipids visible in the retina. This eventually causes macular edema closing off the blood vessels that lead to early symptoms. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy refers to the progression of the diseases in which abnormal blood vessels begin to grow in response to the ischemia and poor blood flow caused by the non-proliferative stage. These abnormal vessels then leak blood into the vitreous, gel-like substance that fills the eye, causing retinal detachment that can lead to severe vision loss. 

As the disease progresses, a person with diabetic retinopathy may also see double vision, dark or floating spots, flashing lights or blank spots in vision along with pain or pressure in one or both eyes. A comprehensive eye exam with your eye doctor will properly diagnose diabetic retinopathy. The examination will include visual acuity testing, tonometry test, pupil dilation, ophthalmoscopy, fluorescein angiography, and optical coherence tomography. Treatment options for diabetic retinopathy include laser surgery, injections and vitrectomy, a procedure that involves removing and replacing the vitreous in the eye. 

If you have diabetes and are currently experiencing any of the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, today is the day to schedule a diagnostic exam with Associated Retina Consultants. Approximately 30% of people with diabetes worldwide have signs of retinopathy with one third of those cases defined as vision-threatening retinopathy. Avoid being a part of the statistics with a simple appointment request. Give our office a call at 602-242-4928 or schedule online at WEBSITE

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