The leading cause of blindness among adults in America is diabetic retinopathy. It is an eye condition that usually affects individuals with diabetes. Early diagnosis can help you save your vision or prevent the disease from progressing.
Diabetes can affect your vision and lead to an eye condition called diabetic retinopathy. It develops due to high levels of blood sugar caused by diabetes. Over time, the blood vessels in your entire body get damaged.
The blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye also get damaged. Your retina is the light-sensitive membrane that sends signals through the optic nerve to the brain. When the tiny blood vessels in it get blocked by sugar, they begin to bleed or leak. Your retina then grows weaker blood vessels that bleed or leak easily.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is the more advanced stage of the disease, where new blood vessels grow in the eye. Nonproliferative is the early stage of diabetic retinopathy where no symptoms show.
High blood sugar for long periods causes an accumulation of fluid in the eye. As a result, the curve and shape of your eye lens change, and you start experiencing vision changes. Fortunately, your eye lens can resume its original shape once you control your blood sugar level.
Anyone with diabetes has a high risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Below are some of its risk factors:
High blood pressure
Poor blood sugar level control
Being a Native American, Hispanic, or Black
Diabetic retinopathy produces no symptoms during the early stages. But as it continues advancing, the signs become noticeable. It often affects your two eyes. Below are the signs that may indicate you have diabetic retinopathy:
An abrupt and complete loss of sight
Diminished color vision
An empty or dark spot in your central vision
Dark strings, transparent spots, or eye floaters in your field of vision
Poor night vision
Streaks or patches that obstruct your vision
Diabetic retinopathy prevention is not always possible. However, individuals with diabetes can reduce the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy in various ways. First, it is essential to manage your condition. Make physical activity and eating healthy part of your routine. Take insulin and medication as directed.
Monitor the level of your blood sugar severally in a day. Do it frequently if you are under stress or feeling sick. Consult your specialist about how repeatedly you should get your blood sugar tested. Keep your cholesterol levels and blood pressure under control.
Quit smoking and using tobacco products. If you struggle to do so, ask your doctor to help you. Contact your eye specialist immediately if you experience sudden vision changes.
Individuals with diabetes from 12 years and above need to get their eyes screened annually. Doing so is ideal because diabetic retinopathy may not show symptoms at the onset. But once it advances, it can lead to permanent blindness if not diagnosed or treated immediately. Eye screenings are vital in detecting eye problems that can impact your vision to reduce or prevent vision loss through treatment.
Your eye specialist will examine your retina and take photographs of it. The doctor will advise how often you can come for appointments and your treatment options depending on the results.
For more about diabetic retinopathy, visit West Texas Eyecare at our office in Fort Stockton, Texas. Call (432) 336-3662 to book an appointment today.