Diabetes is a very complicated disease, and a person with diabetes will need to have several doctors, including a primary care physician, an endocrinologist, a podiatrist, and an ophthalmologist. Many people do not realize that diabetes can cause serious problems with the eyes, which can lead to marked vision loss or blindness. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common eye issue associated with diabetes, but diabetics are also at higher risk for cataracts, diabetic macular edema, and glaucoma. Continue reading to learn more about diabetic retinopathy:
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that damages the blood vessels in the retina. It is one of the leading causes of blindness and vision loss in adults. It is believed that poorly controlled blood sugar levels can be one of the leading risk factors for diabetic retinopathy.
Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
The very early stages of diabetic retinopathy may have very few or no symptoms. But as the condition worsens, a person may experience spots floating in their vision, blurry vision, empty or dark areas in the field of vision, changes in color vision, or progressive vision loss. A person with diabetes who has any of these symptoms needs to make an appointment to see an ophthalmologist.
How Diabetic Retinopathy is Detected and Diagnosed
An ophthalmologist can use several techniques to detect and diagnose diabetic retinopathy, including a visual acuity test, tonometry, optical coherence tomography, and pupil dilation. During a dilated eye exam an ophthalmologist can observe changes in the blood vessels and damage to the nerve tissue and also look for leaking blood vessels or signs that a vessel is in danger of leaking.
Treating Diabetic Retinopathy
If diabetic retinopathy is detected in the very early stages, an ophthalmologist will most likely recommend strict measures to control blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol. People who have the later stages of diabetic retinopathy may require eye surgery or laser surgery. There are also medications used to treat late-stage diabetic retinopathy; these medications are injected into the eye by an ophthalmologist.
Preventing Complications from Diabetic Retinopathy
While there is no cure for diabetic retinopathy, the early it is detected and treated, the less likely a person is to suffer vision loss or blindness. One of the best ways to prevent complications from diabetic retinopathy is by getting regular eye exams by an ophthalmologist. A person with diabetes may need comprehensive eye exams including pupil dilation much more frequently than a person who does not have diabetes.
For more information, contact your local ophthalmology clinic today.