Diabetic Retinopathy - A Leading Cause of Blindness
If you are one of the more than 30 million Americans living with diabetes, you’re no doubt aware of the many adverse health issues associated with the metabolic disease. In addition to maintaining general health checkups to manage your diabetes, it’s also imperative that you schedule regular eye exams to check for diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of vision loss among working-age Americans.
Fortunately, diabetic retinopathy can be easily managed. Contact us today to set up a diabetic retinopathy eye exam with one of our eye care experts, or continue reading to learn more about the diabetes complication, including risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
What Exactly Is It?
Diabetic retinopathy typically affects both eyes and causes progressive damage to the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The high blood glucose levels associated with diabetes can cause serious damage to the blood vessels. And your eye is home to the most intricate network of blood vessels in the body.
Prolonged high blood glucose levels can stress the blood vessels of the eye, causing them to leak blood and other fluids into the retina. The resulting swelling and inflammation can cause a number of vision-related symptoms, ranging from minor nuisances to blindness.
Identifying the Symptoms
There are a number of symptoms associated with diabetic retinopathy, including:
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Fluctuating vision
- Eye floaters
- Dark spots in your vision
- Diminished color vision
- Eye pain
- Vision loss
If you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes and are dealing with any such vision concerns, you should schedule an eye exam as soon as possible to get tested for diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic Retinopathy Risk Factors
Anyone with diabetes is at risk of developing a serious eye condition like diabetic retinopathy, but there are additional factors that could increase your risk.
African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans all face higher rates of diabetic retinopathy. If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or are not effectively managing your blood glucose levels your risk of diabetic retinopathy is increased substantially. Tobacco use and pregnancy also can increase your risk.
If you have diabetes long enough, you will eventually develop some degree of diabetic retinopathy. We cannot overstate the importance of routine eye exams as the best method to protect your long-term vision health if you suffer from diabetes.
Testing and Diagnosis
Come in today for a simple diabetic retinopathy screening. The pain-free dilated eye test consists mainly of an examination of your retina and macula to check for abnormalities with your ocular blood vessels and optic nerve, swelling of the retina, and retinal detachment.
Diabetic Retinopathy Treatments
There are a number of treatment options that can help slow or stop the progression of diabetic retinopathy before it causes significant vision loss.
Laser Treatments – Blood vessel abnormalities and leaks can be targeted using advanced focal or scattered laser therapy.
Drug Treatments – Anti-VEGF drug treatments injected into the retina target a protein responsible for abnormal blood vessel growth. Supplemental corticosteroid treatment may be included.
Vitrectomy – Surgery to remove excess blood and scar tissue from the middle of the eye (vitreous).
The best treatment option for you depends on the severity of your condition. Mild cases of diabetic retinopathy can often be managed with healthy lifestyle changes designed to better manage your diabetes.
Schedule an Eye Exam
Prevention is the best form of treatment for a condition like diabetic retinopathy. Contact our team to learn more about how to best protect yourself from diabetic eye disease or to schedule a screening.