Around four million Americans 40 and older have an eye disease known as diabetic retinopathy. The late stages of this eye disease can lead to moderate to severe vision loss.
If you are 40 and over and have diabetes, regular eye exams with an ophthalmologist in Windermere can diagnose diabetic retinopathy symptoms. Early treatment of this eye condition can preserve your eyesight and prevent permanent damage to your retina.
Many of our Windermere patients ask our eye doctors, "What is diabetic retinopathy?" The eye condition affects the retina, which is the thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye.
The retina is one of the most important parts of the eye because it sends signals to the brain that allow us to see. You can think of the retina as the film in a camera.
The veins that supply the retina with oxygen and nutrients are very thin and sensitive. Adults who have diabetes are at risk of having these veins damaged.
Fluctuating levels of glucose can affect how easily blood flows through the retina's veins. High levels of glucose can also damage arteries and veins.
Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) refers to the early stages of the disease. NPDR can lead to blood vessels leaking in the retina. The small haemorrhages lead to poor blood flow.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) is the more advanced stage of the disease. Abnormal vessels grow and eventually leak. This causes a release of blood into the gel-like substance that fills the eye.
Diabetic retinopathy stages like PDR can lead to retinal detachment, which can require surgery to correct. Significant vision loss often occurs as a result of PDR.
Diabetic retinopathy treatment can slow or halt the damage caused by the disease if the treatment begins early enough. Often, the best means of slowing the effects of the disease is through management of the underlying cause of diabetic retinopathy diabetes.
By following the advice of a nutritionist and/or physician, patients can better manage their blood sugar levels and blood pressure, which are two of the most factors that cause diabetic retinopathy.
In some cases, treatments can reverse some of the damage caused by diabetic retinopathy. Surgical injections, for example, place medications near the damaged retina.
The injections may include anti-vascular endothelial growth factor drugs. Corticosteroids may also be injected. Depending on the drug used, patients may experience improved vision or slower disease progression.
Laser surgery can reduce swelling in the retina. This can promote new blood vessel growth. Special medical lasers reduce blood vessel leaking by shrinking the size of the blood vessels.
Outpatient surgery can treat advanced cases of the disease. During the procedure, a doctor makes an incision in the eye. Blood vessels can then be repaired, and scar tissue can be removed.
Diabetic retinopathy is a serious disease that can lead to irreversible damage to your retina. With proper blood sugar and blood pressure management, you can slow or even reverse the progression of this eye disease.