What is diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition occurring in persons with diabetes, which causes progressive damage to the retina, the light sensitive lining at the back of the eye. It is a serious sight-threatening complication of diabetes.
What are the different types of diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is classified as either nonproliferative (background) or proliferative. Nonproliferative retinopathy is the early stage, where small retinal blood vessels break and leak.
In proliferative retinopathy, new blood vessels grow abnormally within the retina. This new growth can cause scarring or a retinal detachment, which can lead to vision loss.
The new blood vessels may also grow or bleed into the vitreous humor, the transparent gel filling the back of the eye in front of the retina.
Proliferative retinopathy is much more serious than the nonproliferative form and can lead to total blindness.
What causes diabetic retinopathy?
Unstable blood-sugar levels and long-term diabetes increase your risk of diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to vision loss. As a diabetic, it is vital to control your disease to prevent diabetes from claiming your good vision.
Who’s at the most risk for diabetic retinopathy?
Fluctuating blood sugar levels increase risk for this disease, as does long-term diabetes.
What are the signs and symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy begins slowly, so symptoms may not be present at first. Some symptoms such as floaters, difficulty reading or doing up-close work, and double vision.
What can I do to protect my vision?
If you have diabetes get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year .
How are diabetic retinopathy and macular edema detected?
Diabetic retinopathy and macular edema are detected during a comprehensive eye exam that includes:
Visual acuity test. This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances.
Dilated eye exam. Drops are placed in your eyes to widen, or dilate, the pupils. This allows the eye care professional to see more of the inside of your eyes to check for signs of the disease. Your eye care professional uses a special magnifying lens to examine your retina and optic nerve for signs of damage and other eye problems. After the exam, your close-up vision may remain blurred for several hours.
Tonometry. An instrument measures the pressure inside the eye. Numbing drops may be applied to your eye for this test.
What diabetic retinopathy treatments are currently available?
The best treatment is to keep your diabetes under control; blood pressure control also helps.
Your doctor may decide on laser photocoagulation to cause regression of leaking blood vessels and prevent new blood vessel growth. If blood gets into the vitreous humor, your doctor might want to perform a procedure called a vitrectomy.