Diabetes is a disease that interferes with the body’s abiltiy to use and store sugar. It can, also, cause other health problems, including affecting the eyes. Diabetic Retinopathy is a serious condition in the eyes that can occur in people with diabetes. Over time, it can affect the circulatory system of the retina (the inside linig of back of the eye) and affect sight. Diabetic Retinopathy is the result of damage to the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. These blood vessels can become weak and leak fluids that cause swelling of the retinal tissue and clouding of vision. It usually affects both eyes. The longer a person is diabetic, the more likely they will develop Diabetic Retinopathy. Prolonged periods of high blood sugar can lead to progression of the condition. It is extremely important to have good control of your blood sugar and to follow the advice of your doctor treating your diabetes. To help prevent or slow the development of Diabetic Retinopathy, make sure you are taking your prescribed medication, following your diet, exercising regularly, controlling your blood sugar and blood pressure levels, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco.
Some common symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy are blurred or fluctuating vision, seeing spots or floaters, having a dark spot in the center of your vision, or difficulty seeing at night. Often there are no symptoms in the early stages. It is extremely important to have a dilated eye exam at least once a year. For people who have developed this condition, it may be necessary to be seen more often.
Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy depends on the extent of the disease. If there is swelling in the retina, medication may be necessary to decrease the swelling. If the blood vessels are leaking, laser surgery may be necessary to seal the leaking vessels. One of our ophthalmologists can help you decide you best options for treatment.