To continue our series on the most common eye conditions, this blog is going to be focusing on diabetic retinopathy. Previously, we went over open-angle and angle-closure glaucoma and cataracts. Dr. Sina, your local Alexandria ophthalmologist, wants to provide each of our patients with a thorough understanding of eye issues. So many eye conditions are scary and can be overwhelming, but with our team, you can be confident knowing that you’ll receive the best care and attention.

If it’s time for your annual eye check-up, schedule an appointment with us today and we’ll do a complete eye exam so we can rule out any potential issues, or if necessary, start treatment right away.

What to Know About Diabetic Retinopathy

How It’s Caused

Diabetes affects how the body controls blood sugar levels, often leading to too much sugar. Over time, when there is too much sugar, it will affect the health of blood vessels around the retina and eventually it will cause vision defects. There are four stages of diabetic retinopathy:

  • Mild Nonproliferative: During this early stage, microaneurysms develop in the retina’s blood vessels. These do not affect vision, but can cause the blood vessels to leak fluid.
  • Moderate Nonproliferative: As the disease progresses, the retina’s blood vessels will swell and distort, losing their ability to deliver blood, this results in the retina being malnourished.
  • Severe Nonproliferative: The disease will continue and more blood vessels swell and become blocked, limiting blood flow to the retina. Because of low blood supply, the body will begin to create new blood vessels that can nourish the retina.
  • Proliferative Retinopathy: The new blood vessels that grow are weak, causing them to leak and bleed.

Symptoms

The retina, which is light-sensitive tissue in your eye, turns light signals into images. As blood vessels are affected and fluid builds up in the eye, this causes the tissue to swell. This results in cloudy or blurred vision. Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:

  • Seeing spots or floaters
  • Blurred vision
  • Dark or blank spots in the center of your vision
  • Poor night vision

Prevention

Diabetic retinopathy develops from the symptoms of diabetes, so when diabetes symptoms are managed, so is the retinopathy. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important to schedule regular appointments with an ophthalmologist in order to catch early signs of retinopathy. Here’s what you can do to help prevent it from developing:

  • Manage the Diabetes: Try to keep a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
  • Monitor Blood Sugar: This may already be a part of your daily routine, but talk to your doctor about how frequently levels should be checked.
  • Smoking: Tobacco increases the risk of complications, so try your hardest to quit smoking.
  • Pay Attention: If you begin to notice changes in your vision, contact an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.

Treatment

One of the best ways to treat diabetic retinopathy is to control blood sugar and blood pressure levels. This can be done through healthy eating and exercising habits. Certain medication can also help to reduce the swelling of the macula and will potentially slow down any loss in vision. Laser surgery may also be an option, which will seal off any weak and leaking blood vessels.

Dr. Sina, your local Alexandria ophthalmologist, understands that this may be a difficult time for you. If you are struggling with diabetes or have experienced any changes in your vision, be sure to schedule an appointment with us today. We always strive to provide care that is compassionate and understanding.