This is a diabetes complication affecting the eyes. The condition results from the damage of blood vessels in the eye’s retina. The retina is highly sensitive to light in the eye. In the early stages, diabetic retinopathy may not exhibit symptoms or the patient may have some slight vision issues.
Nevertheless, the condition can cause issues like blurred vision and difficulty seeing colors over time. Diabetic retinopathy can affect people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. If not treated, the condition can lead to vision loss.
Early diabetic retinopathy is also called nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR). This type occurs when there is no growth of new blood vessels. It can progress from mild to severe. NPDR weakens the blood vessels on the walls of the retina, possibly leading to the buildup of fluid in the macula.
Advanced diabetic retinopathy is also known as proliferative diabetic retinopathy. This type occurs when the damaged vessels shut off, causing abnormal retinal blood vessels to grow. This can lead to the development of scar tissue.
The condition may not have symptoms in the early stages. As the disease advances, several symptoms develop. The symptoms include floaters, which are dark strings or spots in the vision, blurred vision, and fluctuating vision.
Other symptoms are poor night vision, impaired color vision, and empty or dark areas in the vision. The condition can also cause sudden and total vision loss. Managing early symptoms is one of the most effective ways to prevent complications from diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs due to high blood sugar levels caused by diabetes. Over time, the high sugar levels cause damage to blood vessels in the body, including those in the retina. The sugar can block the blood vessels, causing them to bleed or leak. This can cause the eyes to develop new and weaker blood vessels that leak more easily.
The process of the eye growing new vessels causes nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy. As the eye accumulates fluid, it can change the curve and shape of the eye lens, leading to changes in vision.
Several risk factors can predispose an individual to get diabetic retinopathy. The factors include long-term diabetes, high blood pressure, and poor blood sugar control. Other risk factors are high cholesterol, pregnancy, and the use of tobacco products. People of Black, Native American, or Hispanic origins are more likely to get the condition.
It is not always possible to prevent diabetic retinopathy, but it is possible to prevent vision loss. Regular eye exams are important to ensure early detection and control. Proper management of diabetes will help prevent complications.
Ensure good control of blood pressure and blood sugar with regular monitoring. Early intervention of vision issues can prevent total vision loss. A healthy diet and exercise can manage diabetes by keeping cholesterol and blood pressure under control.
For more on diabetic retinopathy, visit Eastside Eye Physicians, PC, at our office in Shelby Township or St. Clair Shores, Michigan. You can call (586) 247-2020 or (586) 200-1905 today to schedule an appointment.