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What Is The First Sign of Diabetic Retinopathy?

Anyone diagnosed with diabetes is at risk for diabetic retinopathy. According to the CDC, just over 30 million adults in the United States have diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness for those age 20 to 74.:  1 in 4 working adults have type 2 diabetes, meaning the body cannot handle insulin well or maintain normal blood sugar levels, and they are completely unaware of it. Many are surprised to learn they may have diabetes when visiting their ophthalmologist for blurred vision or eye floaters; these are often the first signs of diabetic retinopathy. 

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that affects the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of the eye. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when too much blood sugar damages the blood vessels in the retina. Diabetes affects blood vessels all over the body. The eyes are harmed when sugar blocks the tiny vessels that travel to the retina. This will cause them to leak fluid or bleed. Symptoms of this occurrence are not noticeable at first but as it progresses, mild vision changes will occur and can lead to blindness. 

There are two types of diabetic retinopathy, non-proliferative (early stages of development) and proliferative (advanced form of the disease). Many people do not experience any symptoms in the non-proliferative stage. By the time symptoms occur, retinopathy is already considered advanced. Common symptoms include blurry or distorted vision, eye floaters, poor night vision, decreased field of vision, changes in what colors are seen and vision loss. 

Diabetic retinopathy can develop in anyone with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The longer a person has diabetes along with poor management or control of blood sugar, the more likely the chance of developing diabetic retinopathy. 

Prevention is crucial before symptoms start, since in the case of diabetic retinopathy, by the time symptoms begin, the damage may have already been done. Ophthalmologists at Associated Retina Consultants can provide you with preventative care for diabetic eye disease. Call 602-242-4928 or visit online at WEBSITE to ensure the health of your vision and to start any necessary treatment plans.  

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