Diabetes is a complicated disease in which the body no longer regulates the amount of blood glucose it produces. It can occur in childhood, known as Type I diabetes, or later in life when it is referred to as Type II diabetes. Regardless of which type of diabetes you have, you are at an increased risk for vision problems. Diabetes has many side effects and complications on your all-around health; diabetes and vision are entangled in this same way. If you have blurry vision from diabetes, you could have a serious condition known as diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetes and Vision: Diabetic Retinopathy
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetes and the vision problems it may cause include greater risks of CATARACTS and OPEN ANGLE GLAUCOMA. Another major concern is diabetic retinopathy, a condition in which blood vessels in the retina begin to leak, which causes edema, or swelling. This is a condition that could eventually lead to blindness, and it could occur in anybody who has either type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
What are the Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy?
There are two stages of diabetic retinopathy. The first occurs when damaged blood vessels begin to leak fluid into the eye. This is known as nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy. While in this stage, you may experience minor complications that cause your vision to blur. These include retinal hemorrhages, macular edema, hard exudates created by leaked cholesterol, or microaneurysms. You may experience blurred central vision or have drastic changes in your eyesight while in this stage.
The second stage of the disease is proliferative diabetic retinopathy. As the disease progresses, it begins to cut off blood flow from the vessels attached to the retina, causing neovascularization, when abnormal blood vessels begin to grow on the retina in an effort to reestablish blood flow. You may experience more extensive vision loss while in this stage because PDR affects both central and peripheral vision.
What are the Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy often causes blindness because there are no symptoms until the disease has progressed. Once you have reached NPDR, you will experience changes in your vision that will require you to seek diabetic retinopathy treatment. For this reason, it is important to keep up with regular eye appointments so your doctor can identify early signs of diabetic retinopathy. You should also contact your doctor immediately if you notice any of the following changes to your vision.
- Blurry vision
- Sudden changes in how you perceive color
- Dark spots
- Sudden vision loss
What Treatments are Available for Diabetic Retinopathy?
One potential diabetic retinopathy treatment is a laser procedure known as a focal treatment, which is utilized to try to decrease the swelling. However, the best retinopathy treatment is actually prevention, as even a successful focal treatment procedure may not restore vision. Yearly eye exams and controlling of your blood sugar level is crucial in prevention, diabetic retinopathy may not cause any symptoms at first, allowing the condition to worsen and become more severe before action is ever taken.