Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition caused by diabetes in which the
retina is damaged by leaky blood vessels. If left untreated, diabetic
retinopathy can lead to irreversible blindness. Diabetic retinopathy is
the leading cause of retinal blindness in the world.
Approximately 26 million men, women and children in the United States have
type 1 or type 2 diabetes. About 25 percent of diabetics have some form
of diabetic retinopathy and five percent have a serious case of the condition.
The longer a patient has had diabetes, the greater his or her chances
of developing diabetic retinopathy.
If diagnosed early and treated properly, it is possible to prevent partial
or total vision loss from diabetic retinopathy. In order to prevent vision
loss, patients with diabetes should maintain annual or bi-annual eye exams.
Proliferative retinopathy is the advanced stage of diabetic retinopathy that can result in blindness.
At this stage, tiny new blood vessels grow along the retina. The extra
blood vessels themselves are not harmful, but they are very fragile and
prone to leaking. If the blood vessels leak blood into the eye, severe
vision loss or total blindness may result.
Treatment for proliferative retinopathy Proliferative retinopathy can be treated with laser surgery to shrink the
abnormal blood vessels. Treatment is most successful if performed before
the blood vessels begin to leak blood into the eye. This is why it is
imperative to have regular and fully dilated eye exams as directed by
your doctor. If the blood vessels have already begun to leak, laser treatments
may still be possible, depending on the amount of bleeding. If the bleeding
is severe, a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy may be necessary.
Preventing diabetic eye disease People with type 2 diabetes usually have signs of eye problems when diabetes
is first diagnosed. You can reduce your risk of diabetic retinopathy or
slow progression of the condition by managing diabetes by maintaining
a healthy weight with a low calorie diet and regular exercise along with
control of blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol. It is also
important to avoid smoking, as smoking may increase your risk of developing
Whether you have been recently diagnosed with diabetes or have lived with
the disease for years, your eyes may be at risk. If you experience changes
in your vision including blurred vision, seeing black spots or flashes
of light, or partial or complete loss of vision in one or both eyes, see
your eye doctor immediately.
Vision loss cannot be reversed, but with proper care, it could be prevented.
Schedule a comprehensive eye exam with Key-Whitman today.