Is Diabetic Retinopathy Something I Should Worry About?
If you have diabetes, you may be concerned that it could affect other parts of your health, including your eyes. Diabetes carries the risk of various eye diseases, including retinopathy.
If diabetes is left untreated, it can result in total vision loss even without any symptoms. Keep reading to find out if diabetic retinopathy is something you should worry about.
How Does Diabetes Cause Retinopathy?
Diabetes develops when the body does not correctly use or produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that enables your body to utilize blood sugar for energy.
Patients with diabetes usually have high blood sugar levels, affecting the blood vessels in the retina. In the early stages of retinopathy, small blood vessels in the eye start to swell.
But as the condition progresses, some of the vessels that provide nourishment to your retina become blocked. In their place, abnormal, thin blood vessels with fragile walls develop. If these new vessels leak, the result can be severe loss of vision or even blindness.
You may have retinopathy for some time before you notice any symptoms. Once they start, they can gradually progress from mild to complete blindness.
Typically, the tell-tale signs of retinopathy begin with strings, floaters, halos around lights, distorted vision, blurry vision, and floaters.
After a while, you might see faded colors or dark spots in your field of vision.
Also, the intensity of your symptoms may fluctuate before they eventually become worse. If not treated, diabetic retinopathy can result in other complications like hemorrhaging, glaucoma, and retinal detachment.
Progression of Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetes first weakens the blood vessels in your eyes and facilitates the growth of unhealthy ones. This leads to various other stages of the following:
The weakened blood vessels may start to leak fatty deposits or blood into your retina, causing it to swell. This is referred to as diabetic macular edema.
New, delicate blood vessels replace the damaged ones, and they’re more prone to dangerous leaks. The abnormal growth of vessels is known as proliferative retinopathy.
Vitreous Hemorrhage and Glaucoma
Leaking vessels can spread through your vitreous, which is a gel-like substance in the back of your eye. The leaking vessels prevent light from reaching the retina, causing distorted vision.
Additionally, if abnormal blood vessels develop around your pupils, they can lead to pressure build-up. This can eventually lead to the development of glaucoma.
Can Retinopathy Be Cured?
Although advanced treatments for diabetic retinopathy are available today, there is no cure for the condition. The treatments either stop or slow the progression of retinopathy to protect your remaining vision.
Your ophthalmologist can successfully treat the disease if it’s detected early. By going for routine eye examinations any time there’s a change in your vision, your eye doctor can diagnose the condition and slow retinopathy symptoms or prevent them from getting worse.
Some people are more predisposed to retinopathy than others. Risk factors include:
- Poorly controlled or untreated diabetes
- Sleep apnea
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
Protect Your Vision
If you have diabetes, it may be hard to control your blood sugar properly. If you suspect you have diabetic retinopathy, schedule an appointment with one of the outstanding eye doctors at Short Hills Ophthalmology in Short Hills and Clifton, NJ, today!