What Patients Need to Know about Diabetic Retinopathy

By , November 19th, 2018

Senior man doing eye test with optometrist

Patients with diabetes are at heightened risk of diabetic retinopathy, but good maintenance and the right treatment can slow the progression of the disease.

Retinopathy, or the impairment of the retina, poses a significant threat to the light-sensitive region at the back of the eye. While this disease can affect anyone, it’s particularly dangerous for the 30 million Americans living with diabetes. Overall, about 15 million will develop an eye disease related to diabetes, with diabetic retinopathy making up most of those diagnoses.

Because there is no way to reverse the damage diabetic retinopathy does to the eye, it’s all the more important for patients to work with eye care specialists to identify the condition early and treat it as soon as possible.

Understanding Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy develops when a surplus of sugar in the blood causes small blockages in the blood vessels that supply the retina. Although the eye attempts to build new blood vessels, they don’t develop properly and can cause serious issues.

During the earliest stages of diabetic retinopathy, patients are likely to experience few or no visible symptoms. As the condition progresses, however, it’s common to suffer from mild blurriness in the near and far ranges, floaters, and a sudden loss of vision. Without sufficient treatment, diabetic retinopathy can ultimately lead to blindness.

While those who suffer from diabetes are all at risk of diabetic retinopathy, patients with Type I diabetes are more likely to develop the condition than those with Type II.

How Eye Doctors Treat Diabetic Retinopathy

If you experience any change in the quality of your vision, it’s important that you make an appointment with an eye specialist as soon as possible. Once they’ve conducted an examination and positively identified diabetic retinopathy, they’ll begin discussing possible treatment options.

Although careful management of blood sugar and blood pressure is the best defense against diabetic retinopathy, eye specialists have a range of options at their disposal to stop the progression of the condition. For example, laser treatments can plug up the minuscule holes in blood vessels and prevent them from springing new leakages in the eye.

In another type of treatment, eye specialists drain the vitreous of blood that’s clouded the eye. By replacing blood with a clean saline solution, professionals can get leakages under control. For patients who don’t respond to laser treatment, these injections can clear the eye of complications caused by diabetic retinopathy.

The Bottom Line

By keeping diabetes in check and scheduling regular examinations with your eye care specialists, patients can catch diabetic retinopathy early and stop its progression. For patients struggling with diabetic retinopathy, however, consider scheduling a consultation with the Kleiman Evangelista Eye Centers of Texas. With professional attention, you can halt diabetic retinopathy before it meaningfully impacts your vision.

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