WHAT IS Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a disease broken up into four stages that causes damage to the blood vessels within the retina and can affect people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. This condition is the primary cause of vision loss and blindness in men and women with diabetes, and it is one of the top contributors to blindness in patients between 18 – 65 years. Uncontrolled blood glucose can result in the swelling, blockage, and leaking of retinal blood vessels, which can cause blindness when not diagnosed and treated promptly. Diabetic retinopathy forms over time, and symptoms are not always noticeable in the earlier stages.
It's vital for patients with diabetes to attend yearly eye examinations so our board-certified ophthalmologists at The Eye Center of Central PA can assess their eye health and check for the presence of this condition. If you have diabetes but haven't received a comprehensive eye exam in a year or more, we encourage you to get in touch with one of our offices throughout Central Pennsylvania to arrange your appointment.
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WHAT ARE THE SIGNS?
Patients don't typically notice any telltale signs of diabetic retinopathy when the disease is in its earlier stages. But as the condition advances in severity, symptoms become noticeable and are comparable to those experienced with retinal tears and detachments. Some of these symptoms include:
- Sudden vision loss
- The onset or worsening of flashes and floaters
- Blurry or distorted vision
- Reduced ability to distinguish color
- Reduced sharp vision
CAUSES OF DIABETIC RETINOPATHY
Diabetic retinopathy develops in Type 1 and Type 2 individuals with a history of chronically high or extreme spikes in their blood sugar. If you have diabetes, it's incredibly important to monitor and manage your blood sugar levels and follow the medical guidance of your general provider. The retinal blood vessels are directly impacted by high blood sugar because it causes them to thicken, swell, and form blockages, which may lead to bleeding or fluid leakage over time. When left untreated, diabetic retinopathy could result in macular edema (macular swelling) and macular ischemia (when blood fails to reach the macula).
Our ophthalmologists at The Eye Center of Central PA is thrilled to perform a range of different treatments for diabetic retinopathy that vary based on the stage of your disease. For those with leaking blood vessels, we offer panretinal photocoagulation, which is a cauterizing laser procedure that effectively seals the area and prevents additional leakage and damage. Meanwhile, men and women in a more advanced stage of the disorder may receive anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) to keep any abnormal blood vessels from developing.
Generally, early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy can lead to the symptoms being eliminated and your eye health restored. However, when not treated, the negative effects and vision loss may be permanent. The best way to stop or slow the progression of the disease is to take care of your diabetes and keep your blood sugar in control.
TreatMENT IS POSSIBLE
Diabetic retinopathy is a disease that could potentially affect anybody with diabetes if they do not take care of their health. Making sure that your blood sugar is controlled and attending yearly eye examinations are the primary things you can do to reduce your chances of developing this condition and ending up with vision loss and permanent damage. At The Eye Center of Central PA, our board-certified ophthalmologists utilize advanced techniques and technologies to diagnose and treat diabetic retinopathy. Get in touch with one of our offices throughout Central Pennsylvania to schedule your comprehensive exam and restore your eye health.