Diabetes is a difficult disease with many possible consequences to your overall health. Eye health is no exception. Patients with diagnosed diabetes must be very careful with their eyes or risk developing diabetic retinopathy.
What is it? Diabetic retinopathy is a symptom of diabetes that damages the small blood vessels that feed the eye. Early stages of the disease are not damaging enough to notice, but the risk of complication goes up exponentially as it is left untreated. While diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness in adults, it can be controlled with regular check-ups and taking your doctor’s lifestyle advice.
Who’s at risk? Any patient with diabetes is at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Other complications such as pregnancy, poor blood sugar control and lack of regular eye exams only increase the risk.
What are the symptoms? Diabetic retinopathy has almost no visible symptoms in early stages. If you are diabetic, regular eye exams are the only way to prevent worsening of retinopathy– even if you do not experience any of the following symptoms!
- Loss of vision,
- Eyes with swollen blood vessels,
- Reduced night vision,
- Shadows or missing vision,
- Slight improvement followed by rapid worsening,
- Pain in or near the eyes,
- Double vision,
- Leaking fluid from eyes’ blood vessels.
What is the cause? The exact cause of diabetic retinopathy is unknown. This is why regular check ups and monitoring by your optometrist are so important. Only consistent eye exams can identify and treat diabetic retinopathy.
What are the treatments? The best treatment is controlling your diabetes with a healthy regimen designed by you and your doctor. More serious stages of the disease can be helped with laser treatments or a vitrectomy (procedure to clear extra blood from the eye), but neither is capable of outright curing your eye disease.
What happens if it’s untreated? Vision can worsen over time and diabetic retinopathy can even lead to blindness. Normal tasks can seem difficult due to eye and vision problems. Risk of developing additional infections or diseases increase in patients with untreated diabetic retinopathy.
If you are diabetic or at risk of developing diabetes, make sure to inform your optometrist so he or she can put you on the best road to healthy vision. Here at The Vision Gallery we have caring professionals that make your eye health the priority. No matter how your vision progresses, our doctors will work with you to make the most of your eye health.