Did you know that diabetic retinopathy affects about 8 million Americans? Let’s address common questions about the condition below.
Q. What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is the result of a diabetic condition. It can be either diagnosed or undiagnosed. The only way to have diabetic retinopathy is if you have diabetes. You also can’t have diabetic retinopathy cause diabetes.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when diabetes isn’t managed well. It results in damaged blood vessels throughout the body, including in the retina.
Damaged blood vessels in the retina are the first symptom with diabetic retinopathy. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy leads to complications and vision problems in diabetics.
Q. After retinal blood vessels become damaged, how does diabetic retinopathy affect the eyes?
A. Once blood vessels in the eyes become damaged, they leak blood and fluid before closing off. Once this happens, the retina becomes cut off from nutrients in normal blood flow.
Even though the blood vessels are cut off, the retina tries to grow new blood vessels. These new blood vessels are weak and cause bleeding in the eye.
When diabetic retinopathy runs rampant, it leads to a total loss of vision. Once lost, this vision cannot be regained.
Q. Does diabetic retinopathy have any symptoms to watch out for?
A. In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, there are no symptoms to watch out for. Over time, you’ll start seeing dark spots or strings in your vision.
You may also notice that your vision becomes blurry. The best line of defense against diabetic retinopathy is keeping diabetes under control! You should also have regular eye exams.
Q. If there are no symptoms, how is diabetic retinopathy diagnosed?
A. The only way to diagnose diabetic retinopathy in its earliest stages is with a dilated eye exam. The dilation allows for your ophthalmologist to perform the most thorough examination possible.
By having your eyes dilated, your eye doctor will be able to see more of what’s going on in your eyes.
Q. Can any vision loss that occurs before treatment come back?
A. No. This is why it is so very important to diagnose and treat diabetic retinopathy as early as possible.
The earlier you know you have a diagnosis, the earlier you can start treatment. Treating diabetic retinopathy can lead to avoiding even further vision loss!
Q. Is there any way for me to prevent diabetic retinopathy?
A. Currently, there is no way to prevent the onset of diabetic retinopathy in diabetics. To reduce your risks, keep your blood sugar levels under control.
If you know you are diabetic, you should also be seeing your eye doctor yearly, if not more. Regular eye exams are key when it comes to diagnosing diabetic retinopathy early!
Q. Is there a way to cure or reverse diabetic retinopathy?
A. No. It’s much easier to keep your diabetes under control! If you do have diabetic retinopathy, manage your blood sugar and undergo treatment.
This combination can help slow the progression of the condition and save your vision!
Have more questions about diabetic retinopathy? Contact Georgia Eye Associates in one of our four convenient locations or click here to schedule an appointment!