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Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy... What You Need to Know


Diabetes can cause several different complications in vision, cataracts and glaucoma have both been linked to diabetes. The most devastating of all diabetic related vision ailments is caused by damage to blood vessels inside the eye, a condition known as "diabetic retinopathy". Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. When blood vessels in the retina are damaged, they may leak blood and grow fragile, brush-like branches and scar tissue. This can blur or distort the vision images that the retina sends to the brain.

Normal Vision
Vision With Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic eye disease is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. People with untreated diabetes are said to be 25 times more at risk for blindness than the general population. The longer a person has had diabetes, the higher the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Fortunately, with regular, proper eye care and treatment when necessary, the incidence of severe vision loss has been greatly reduced.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy:
  • Difficulty reading
  • Blurred vision
  • Seeing rings around lights
  • Sudden loss of vision in one eye
  • Dark spots or flashing lights
In mild cases, treatment for diabetic retinopathy is not necessary. Regular eye exams are critical, though, to monitor any progression. Strict control of blood sugar and blood pressure levels can greatly reduce or prevent diabetic retinopathy.

However in some cases laser surgery is helpful in treating diabetic retinopathy. To reduce macular edema, laser light is focused on the damaged retina to seal leaking retinal vessels. For abnormal blood vessel growth (neovascularization), the laser treatments are delivered over the peripheral retina. The small laser scars that result will reduce abnormal blood vessel growth and help bond the retina to the back of the eye, thus preventing retinal detachment.

If you’ve noticed change in your vision, or if you haven’t been to the office for a while and think you may be developing Diabetic Retinopathy, please contact us to set up an apointment today.