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Diabetic Retinopathy

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease as a result of diabetes, that develops when blood sugars are not controlled and run consistently high. These high blood sugars can cause damage to the tiny blood vessels inside the retina. These vessels can swell, leak and close off the circulation of blood in the back of your eye. This process can cause new blood vessels to grow on the retina. These changes are what cause the loss of vision with diabetic retinopathy. 

What are the symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy?

Increased number of floaters, blurry vision, vision that changes from blurry to clear, seeing blank or dark areas, losing vision and noticing colors that appear washed out or faded are all symptoms of diabetic retinopathy. These symptoms usually affect both eyes at the same time. 

How is Diabetic Retinopathy diagnosed?

Diabetic retinopathy can be diagnosed during a comprehensive dilated eye exam that includes visual acuity testing, tonometry, dilation and an Optical coherence tomography (OCT). The comprehensive dilated exam gives the doctor the ability to see any changes to the blood vessels, any warning signs of leakage, any damage to the nerve tissue or any changes to the lens. The doctor can then proceed with diagnosis and a treatment plan. ​

How is Diabetic Retinopathy treated?

Treatment is determined by your ophthalmologist and what they observe during your exam. Controlling your sugars through diet and medicine prescribed by your primary care physician is the first step in your treatment plan. Good blood sugars could result in your vision coming back. 

Diabetic retinopathy treatment can also include laser surgery to help seal off leaky vessels in your retina, or your ophthalmologist may recommend a vitrectomy, which is the removal of the vitreous gel and the blood from the back of your eye from the leaky vessels. 

How do I prevent diabetic retinopathy?

Anyone with diabetes (type I or type II) should talk to their primary care doctor or nutritionist about controlling their blood sugars. Make sure that you have your eyes tested by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist at least once every year or however often your doctor recommends for follow-up. If you notice changes in your vision, call your doctor immediately. If you have been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, get treatment right away. These are the best ways to prevent any further vision loss. 


What are the stages of Diabetic Retinopathy?

If you have diabetic retinopathy, at first you may notice no changes to your vision. But over time, diabetic retinopathy can get worse and cause vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes.

1.Mild Nonproliferative Retinopathy. At this earliest stage, microaneurysms
occur. They are small areas of balloon-like swelling in the retina's tiny blood

2. Moderate Nonproliferative Retinopathy. As the disease progresses, some blood vessels that nourish the retina are blocked.

3. Severe Nonproliferative Retinopathy. Many more blood vessels are blocked, depriving several areas of the retina with their blood supply. These areas of the retina send signals to the body to grow new blood vessels for nourishment.

4. Proliferative Retinopathy. At this advanced stage, the signals sent by the retina for nourishment trigger the growth of new blood vessels. This condition is called proliferative retinopathy. These new blood vessels are abnormal and fragile. They grow along the retina and along the surface of the clear, vitreous gel that fills the inside of the eye.


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