Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease, but most diabetic patients aren’t aware of this eye condition until they notice drastic vision changes. If you are borderline diabetic or diabetes has already begun to affect your health, stay informed about the warning signs and risk factors.
The eye is full of delicate blood vessels that carry oxygen, blood and nourishment to the eye. If you suffer from elevated blood sugar for a prolonged period of time, these vessels get irreversibly damaged. While your eye can regenerate the vessels, they will be weak, leak or hemorrhage easily.
This leads to the four stages of diabetic retinopathy:
Mild Nonproliferative Retinopathy - appearance of small red dots on the blood vessels in your eye retina
Moderate Nonproliferative Retinopathy - blockage of some of the blood vessels nourishing the retina
Severe Nonproliferative Retinopathy - increased blockage of retinal blood vessels, which leads to diminished blood supply to the retina
Proliferative Retinopathy - a lack of blood supply triggers growth of new, but abnormal blood vessels for nourishment of the retina.
The growth of these new blood vessels do not cause vision loss, but because of their location and fragile state, they are easily damaged. Damage to these blood vessels causes blood leakage (retinal hemorrhages) into the eye, which in turn, causes vision loss and even blindness.
As blood pools on the retina, you will experience blurred or darkened vision, sudden and unpredictable vision loss and daily changes in visual function. Treatment is necessary at this point in the disease.
Early detection is your best defense against diabetic retinopathy. Dilated exams including retinal photos are critical to early detection. When diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed early, treatment plans, including laser procedures and other surgeries, have proven increasingly effective in preserving vision.
The eye doctors at Broome Optical urge frequent monitoring of all diabetic patients. Schedule a thorough eye exam annually.