Diabetic Retinopathy: Early Detection to Prevent Vision Loss
- Posted on: Mar 28 2012
retinopathy, the most common eye disease caused by diabetes, is the leading cause
of blindness in adults who are 20-64 years old. It is also one of the
most common causes of retinal blindness in the world. 25 percent of diabetics
have some form of diabetic retinopathy.This common eye disease occurs when blood vessels in the retina change.
Changes to the blood vessels can cause irreversible vision loss and possibly
the need for
eye laser surgeryor corrective lenses. The blood vessels can swell, leak fluid or close
off. With diabetic retinopathy, abnormal new blood vessels can also grow
on the retina’s surface.
There are two types of diabetic retinopathy:
Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy, also known as background retinopathy, is the beginning stage of diabetic
retinopathy. Damaged blood vessels leak blood and fluid into the eye,
and deposits from the blood can leak into the retina. Many people may
have nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy that does not affect their
vision. If vision is affected by nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy,
it is due to macular edema or macular ischemia.
Macular edema is swelling or thickening of the macula caused by leaking
fluid. It is the most common cause of vision loss in diabetes. With macular
ischemia, small blood vessels in the eye close, reducing blood circulation
to the macula. Vision will become blurry as the macula does not receive
enough blood to function properly.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy occurs when many blood vessels in the retina close, significantly reducing
blood flow. To compensate, the retina grows new blood vessels. The new
blood vessels are abnormal and do not function properly to supply the
retina with necessary blood. The new blood vessels can also cause scar
tissue to form, which may cause the retina to wrinkle or detach. This
form of retinopathy is more severe as it affects central and peripheral
vision. Abnormal blood vessels can sometimes be treated with laser eye surgery.
The best way to prevent vision loss from diabetic retinopathy is early
detection of the disease through regular comprehensive eye exams. In the
early stages of the disease, changes to vision may not be noticeable.
By the time vision loss occurs, there is far more damage to the eye. With
regular, comprehensive eye exams, diabetic retinopathy can be detected
in the early stages, and vision loss may be preventable.
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