Individuals with diabetes must monitor their eye health, as they are at risk of diabetic retinopathy. This disease affects the retina and can bring about vision loss or blindness. With prompt treatment, a person can stop the progression of the disease and preserve their vision.
Symptoms to Watch For
Men and women rarely notice any early signs of diabetic retinopathy. They may find they can no longer read or see faraway objects and attribute this to changes in their vision. Furthermore, the symptoms may come and go. However, it’s best to see the eye doctor and determine what is causing these issues. Visit DMEandMe.com to learn more about prompt treatment and why it is so important.
As the disease progresses, you may see dark, floating spots in the eyes. Some people find they have streaks that resemble cobwebs. These spots and streaks appear as blood vessels in the retina bleed into the gel-like fluid that fills the eye. The spots may resolve on their own but could recur. It may be worse during repeat occurrences, and the bleeding could lead to scarring.
Diagnosing Diabetic Retinopathy
Doctors use several tools to diagnose diabetic retinopathy. They begin by dilating the eye to get a better view of the inside and identify any abnormalities. Once the eyes dilate, the doctor injects a dye into a vein in the patient’s arm. The dye circulates through the body, and the doctor takes pictures as it makes its way through the blood vessels of the eye. A fluorescein angiography helps the doctor find leaking, closed, or broken blood vessels.
The doctor may also do optical coherence tomography. Pictures are taken of the retina to determine how thick it is and how much fluid has leaked into the retinal tissues. This test may be repeated throughout the treatment of the diabetic retinopathy to determine how well the treatment is working.
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Complications of Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy can lead to other eye conditions if left untreated. One in 15 diabetics will develop diabetic macular edema or DME. This disease arises when the blood vessels in the eye leak fluid into the macula. This leads to blurred vision because the macula is the portion of the retina responsible for sharp, central vision.
Neovascular glaucoma is another condition that may occur in individuals with diabetic retinopathy. With retinopathy, abnormal blood vessels may begin growing out of the retina. These blood vessels interfere with fluid drainage from the eye. The blockage leads to a type of glaucoma and can bring about vision loss or blindness.
Retinal detachment remains a concern in patients suffering from diabetic retinopathy. The retinopathy leads to scars forming in the back of the eye. Tractional retinal detachment is a condition that leads to the scars pulling the retina away from the back of the eye.
Treating Diabetic Retinopathy
The doctor may initially recommend a wait-and-watch approach. If the disease progresses, injections may be needed to improve your vision and slow the progression of the disease. Laser surgery helps some patients, and the doctor might perform a vitrectomy when the leaking blood vessels lead to cloudy vision.
Visit the eye doctor regularly to monitor your eye health if you have diabetes. Preventing vision loss isn’t difficult when a person knows what symptoms to look for. However, the best prevention is to bring diabetes under control. Work with your doctor to keep blood sugar levels in an acceptable range, and your risk of diabetic retinopathy and complications will decrease.