People with diabetes are at risk of developing an eye condition known as diabetic retinopathy. According to researchers, diabetic macula edema and/or nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy is present in 25 percent of patients five years after they got a diagnosis for diabetes. It is present in 60 percent and 80 percent of those diagnosed with diabetes after 10 years and 15 years, respectively.
This condition develops when high blood sugar levels destroy some of your retinal blood vessels. This is the most common cause of vision loss and even blindness among diabetics. Fortunately, you can take certain steps to prevent its development. If you already have it, do not lose hope. There are ways to slow down its progression. Diabetic retinopathy goes through several stages. These are:
Also known as background retinopathy, this is the stage where small bulges or swellings form in the tiny retinal blood vessels. These bulges are what doctors call microaneurysms, which can lead to the leakage of small amounts of blood into the retina.
At this stage, most people do not experience any vision problems, which is why many do not seek treatment. Your doctor will give you tips on how to prevent your condition from worsening. Also, you will need to control your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar from worsening.
During this stage of diabetic retinopathy, the tiny blood vessels in your retinas start to swell. This swelling may affect their ability to carry blood as well as they did, which can lead to physical changes in your retina. The buildup of blood and other fluids in the macula, which is part of the retina, can lead to diabetic retinopathy.
In this stage, there is an increased blockage in your retinal blood vessels. Consequently, less blood reaches your retinas, which can lead to the formation of scar tissue. This lack of blood triggers the development of new blood vessels in the retina.
Left untreated, this condition can lead to the complete blockage of the blood vessels. Known as macular ischemia, this condition can cause you to experience blurry vision with floaters. During this stage, there is a high likelihood of experiencing vision loss. However, further treatment can prevent further loss of vision.
During this advanced stage, new retinal blood vessels grow. They also form in the gel-like fluid that fills the eye. Unfortunately, they are weak and thin, which can lead to leakage and the formation of scar tissue. As it gets smaller, the scar tissue can pull on the retina, which can cause retinal detachment. This can lead to permanent loss of both peripheral and straight-ahead vision.
Most people know that diabetes is a dangerous disease. It is potentially life-threatening. However, early diagnosis of any diabetes-related eye condition can improve the chances of successful treatment. Thus, as a diabetic, the route to protecting your eyes and vision lies with learning about diabetes-related conditions and how to deal with them.
To learn more about diabetic retinopathy, visit Eyecare Center Optometrist, PSC, at our offices in Richmond, Lexington, Beattyville, Irvine, or McKee, Kentucky. You can call (859) 208-2020, (859) 623-6643, (859) 272-2449, (606) 464-8148, (606) 726-9321, (606) 287-8477 today to schedule an appointment.