Diabetic Retinopathy: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Your eyes are sensitive to the smallest changes in your body, and those changes can impact your vision in temporary or long-term ways. Because your eyes are highly sensitive machines, tiny shifts in things like your blood pressure, blood sugar, and hormones can cause changes in your vision. Find out more about what you need to know about diabetic retinopathy and how you can protect your eyes if you have diabetes.

Early Screenings

Coming in for your yearly eye exam can seem like a pain, especially when you have no noticeable vision problems.  But, did you know that your annual exam also screens for additional health concerns like diabetes? 

 

During your exam, we take a picture of the back of your eye. This image is called a retinal screening photo, and it gives the doctors the ability to see the health of the back of your eye easily. We can use this picture to check the blood vessels in the back of the eye for damage or signs of diabetes and other underlying conditions.  

 

If you have a family history of diabetes, hypertension, or macular degeneration, contact Jarvis Vision Center to schedule a comprehensive exam with a retinal screening photo to be checked for these conditions.

Causes

The primary cause behind vision problems with diabetes is that the excess sugar in your blood creates blockages in the retinas. According to the Mayo Clinic, your body will then attempt to repair the damage by creating new blood vessels, which often leak or do not function properly. The formation of new blood vessels does not take place unless the diabetic retinopathy is advanced, or has gone unmanaged for a long time.

Symptoms 

Although the early stages of diabetic eye disease often do not produce any symptoms, you may experience some or all of the following visual changes as the condition progresses. Should you find yourself suffering from any of these issues, please contact us to determine if it is related to diabetes or another underlying problem.

  • Fluctuation in vision

  • Spots in your vision or floaters

  • Changes in color vision

  • Blind spots in your visual field

  • Sudden changes in vision

  • Vision loss

If you are not experiencing symptoms, but believe that you are at risk for developing diabetes or diabetic retinopathy, schedule a screening with us.

Additional Risk-Factors:

Other factors can increase your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, including:

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

  • Duration of diabetes

  • Use of tobacco

  • Pregnancy 

Treatments

When left untreated, diabetic retinopathy or diabetic eye disease can lead to blindness. You are especially at risk of this result if you have diabetes, but your blood sugar is not controlled, or you have had diabetes for a long time.  Additional long-term risks include:

  • Glaucoma

  • Retinal detachment

  • Vitreous hemorrhage

  • Blindness

 

Treatment for diabetic retinopathy is to control your diabetes with a proper diet and exercise, as well as close monitoring of your blood sugar levels. Additionally, having regular eye exams to determine if your condition is worsening can help your doctor to make adjustments to your treatments and routine if your condition worsens. When you come to Jarvis Vision Center, we will work with you and your primary care doctor to design a treatment plan that is best for you. 


Source: Mayo Clinic, Diabetic Retinopathy - Symptoms and Causes https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetic-retinopathy/symptoms-causes/syc-20371611

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