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Diabetic Retinopathy: What You Need To Know

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Diabetic retinopathy is a potentially severe eye condition that affects people with diabetes. It causes vision problems and even blindness if left untreated. While diabetic retinopathy can be a cause for concern, the good news is that early detection and timely treatment can help prevent its progression. In this blog, we will explore diabetic retinopathy, its common symptoms, and how it can be diagnosed and treated.

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What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a diabetic complication that affects the eyes. The retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, plays a crucial role in vision. Diabetic retinopathy develops when the small blood vessels in the retina are damaged due to high blood sugar levels. This damage can lead to vision problems and potentially result in blindness if not addressed.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy:

  • Blurred or distorted vision: One of the initial symptoms of diabetic retinopathy is a gradual decline in vision quality. Patients may experience blurred or distorted vision, making it difficult to read or recognize faces.
  • Floaters and dark spots: Diabetic retinopathy may also cause the appearance of floaters, which are specks or particles that seem to float across your field of vision. You might also notice dark spots.
  • Fluctuating vision: Some individuals with diabetic retinopathy may experience vision that fluctuates, improving and worsening periodically.
  • Poor night vision: Difficulty seeing in low-light conditions is another common symptom. This can affect your ability to drive safely at night.
  • Loss of vision: In advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy, vision loss can occur. In some cases, it may progress to complete blindness.

Diagnosing and Treating Diabetic Retinopathy

Early detection of diabetic retinopathy is crucial for effective treatment and to prevent further progression. The symptoms of this condition can occur so gradually that it is unlikely you will notice them on your own until the situation is already severe. It's essential to have regular eye exams, at least once a year, to monitor the health of your eyes. Booking an eye exam is quick and easy. Don't delay; book your eye exam now and take a proactive step towards preserving your vision and maintaining your eye health.

During these exams, your eye care professional will:

  • Dilate your pupils: Your eye doctor will use eye drops to dilate your pupils, allowing a better view of the retina.
  • Examine the retina: Using specialized equipment, your optometrist will closely examine the retina for signs of damage, including leaking blood vessels, swelling, and changes in the blood vessels' appearance.
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT): This non-invasive imaging test provides a detailed cross-sectional view of the retina, helping diagnose diabetic retinopathy.

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Treatment Options For Diabetic Retinopathy

  • Laser therapy: In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, laser treatment can help seal leaking blood vessels and prevent further growth.
  • Anti-VEGF injections: Medications that block the growth of abnormal blood vessels can be injected into the eye to reduce swelling and prevent vision loss.
  • Vitrectomy: In advanced cases, a surgical procedure called vitrectomy may be necessary to remove blood and scar tissue from the eye.

Diabetic retinopathy is a severe condition that can lead to vision loss if left untreated. With regular eye exams and early intervention, the progression of diabetic retinopathy can often be halted, and vision loss can be prevented. If you have diabetes, you must prioritize your eye health by scheduling regular eye exams. If you have diabetes or suspect you may be at risk, call Dr. Wendy Waguespack, O.D. today and schedule an eye exam.