Eye Diseases / Diabetic Retinopathy
Many people do not realize that diabetes can severely affect your vision. The condition known as Diabetic Retinopathy is actually one of the most common diabetic eye diseases, and despite advances in technology, pharmaceuticals and treatment regimes, it is still one of the leading causes of blindness in American adults.
In some ways, Diabetic Retinopathy is a little like Glaucoma, another leading cause of blindness that is known as a “sneak” thief of sight. That is because there are very few warning signs of glaucoma until vision loss has occurred. The same is often true with Diabetic Retinopathy. If you have Diabetic Retinopathy, you may not notice changes to your vision at first. But over time, Diabetic Retinopathy can get worse and cause vision loss and can usually affect both eyes.
In layman terms, Diabetic Retinopathy is caused when the flow of blood into the blood vessels to the retina – or back portion of the eye – is interrupted. In some cases, these blood vessels may actually swell and leak fluid. In other cases of Diabetic Retinopathy, new abnormal blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina.
Patients with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are at risk for developing Diabetic Retinopathy. It is important for everyone with diabetes to schedule a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. The longer someone has diabetes, the more likely he or she will develop diabetic retinopathy. Between 40 to 45 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some stage of Diabetic Retinopathy.
Because there are often few, if any, visual symptoms in the early stages of the disease, nor is there any pain, patients who are diabetic should NOT wait for symptoms. Be sure to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year.
If you notice a few specks of blood, or spots, “floating” in your vision, contact Thurmond Eye Associates as soon as possible. You may need treatment before more serious bleeding occurs. Sometimes the spots will clear up without treatment and your vision will improve on its own. However, bleeding can reoccur and cause severely blurred vision, which is why you need to be examined by an eye care professional at the first sign of blurred vision, before more bleeding occurs.
If left untreated, Diabetic Retinopathy can cause severe vision loss and even blindness. Also, the earlier you receive treatment, the more likely treatment will be effective.
If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms, contact our office for a comprehensive eye exam.