What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common eye disease among diabetics. It is also the leading cause of blindness in American adults. According to the American Society of Retina Specialists, diabetic retinopathy occurs in more than half of people who develop diabetes.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when blood vessels in the retina are damaged. These blood vessels frequently leak fluid and cause the retina to swell. Sometimes, abnormal new blood vessels may grow on the surface of the retina. Swelling of the retina or abnormal blood vessel growth in the back of your eye can lead to vision loss and even blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy usually occurs in both eyes. The most common symptom of diabetic retinopathy is slight changes in vision. Over time, the condition can worsen, causing greater vision loss.
Who Is At Risk For Diabetic Retinopathy?
Anyone with type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus is at risk. It is important that everyone with diabetes get a dilated eye exam at least once a year to check for the disease, as the risk increases with each passing year. It is estimated that 45% of diabetic Americans have some form of the disease. Diabetic retinopathy can worsen in pregnancy. If you are diabetic and pregnant, then it is important that you have diabetic eye exams.
What Are the Symptoms?
During the early and moderate stages of the disease, many patients experience no pain or noticeable symptoms. That is why it is recommended that diabetic patients have annual dilated eye exams before the disease progresses, causing irreversible symptoms. Blurred central vision may occur, caused by a condition called macular edema. If the disease has progressed to where new blood vessels have grown, then they can bleed and cause blocked vision.
How Is Diabetic Retinopathy Treated?
There is no cure for diabetic retinopathy. The retinal team at Louisiana Eye & Laser Center offer many treatments to help manage diabetic eye disease. Laser treatment will be required if you have been diagnosed with proliferative diabetic retinopathy. A procedure called a vitrectomy might be necessary to remove blood from the center of the eye if bleeding has progressed beyond the point of laser treatment.
Tips to Prevent Diabetic Retinopathy
- Control blood glucose levels
- Keep blood pressure stable
- Check cholesterol levels
- Eat a healthy diet
- Don’t smoke
- Move for at least 30 minutes each day
Schedule An Eye Exam Today
Diabetic retinopathy shows no early warning signs and if not diagnosed early can lead to vision loss. Protect your vision by having a dilated eye exam at least once a year by an eye doctor at Louisiana Eye & Laser Center. Request an appointment today at one of our 14 locations, including Alexandria and Monroe.