What is a diabetic retinopathy?
People with diabetes mellitus can develop diabetic retinopathy when blood sugar levels are not controlled, causing the walls of the small blood vessels in the eye to weaken. The blood vessels in the retina break and leak, forming small pouches where blood proteins are deposited. New blood vessels may grow abnormally, which leads to scarring and, sometimes, retinal detachment. If it is not treated, diabetic retinopathy can lead to partial or total blindness.
Who is at risk for diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of blindness for adults under age 65. The incidence of diabetic retinopathy is closely correlated with how long a patient has been diagnosed with diabetes. After four years with diabetes, the incidence of diabetic retinopathy is 15%; after fifteen or more years, the incidence climbs to 90%.
What are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?
There are no early warning signs for diabetic retinopathy. Blurry vision can make it hard to read or drive. Sometimes your vision improves or worsens during the day. You may have specks of blood or spots in your vision as bleeding occurs from new blood vessels forming at the back of the eye. Often these spots are followed by greater leakage of blood within a few days, which blurs vision.
How is diabetic retinopathy diagnosed?
Flourescein Angiography: A comprehensive eye exam is the best way to diagnose retinopathy. Your eye care professional can detect early signs of the disease in your retina, such as leaking blood vessels and retinal swelling.
If retinopathy is suspected, a test called a fluorescein angiography will be administered where dye is injected into your arm and travels into your eyes where leaking blood vessels in your retina can be spotted.
How is diabetic retinopathy treated?
Even with advanced retinopathy, there is a 90% chance of keeping your vision if treatment is administered before the retina is severely damaged. Laser surgery can be performed in the doctor?s office. More advanced stages of the disease may require surgery to remove the excess blood from the eye.
How can you prevent diabetic retinopathy?
If you have diabetes mellitus, the primary way to avoid onset of retinopathy or progression of established retinopathy is tight control of blood glucose levels through diet, exercise and medications. Early diagnosis and treatment are also helpful. Even when there are no symptoms, you should have a thorough eye examination annually if you have diabetes.
Here at The Eye Centers of Racine & Kenosha we keep up to date on new research and new treatments. Call 262 637 0500 today! to scheduled your appointment.
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