Am I a Candidate for Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition where diabetes damages the blood vessels in the retina. High blood sugar is the cause and can alter the eye's function and structure.


The blood vessels may leak, thicken, close off or develop clots. In some cases, the vessels grow into defects known as microaneurysms. Diabetic retinopathy is the major cause of vision loss among adults. 


Candidates for Diabetic Retinopathy


Some people are predisposed to getting diabetic retinopathy. If you are wondering whether you are a candidate for the condition, you should consider the risk factors. Some of these include: 


  • If you have diabetes

  • If your blood sugar levels are uncontrolled

  • If you have high blood pressure and high cholesterol

  • If you are pregnant

  • If you are a regular smoker


Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy


Diabetic retinopathy does not usually exhibit symptoms in the early stages. The symptoms become more evident as the condition progresses. Some of the symptoms include: 


  • Blurry vision

  • Impaired color vision

  • Transparent spots or eye floaters

  • Streaks or patches blocking the vision

  • Poor night vision

  • An empty or dark spot in the center of your vision

  • A sudden, total vision loss on both eyes


Diagnosing Diabetic Retinopathy


Ophthalmologists will carry out a comprehensive examination to determine if a patient has the disease. They begin by taking the patient’s medical history and testing the vision. They will then examine the retina using an ophthalmoscope. There are features of the condition that will require further testing. 


The diagnosing process may also involve special exams where the doctors administer drugs to dilate the pupils. This allows examination of the retina using lenses and a slit lamp, which is a special viewing light. A fluorescein angiography test can reveal changes in the function and structure of the blood vessels in the retina.


Treating Diabetic Retinopathy


Treating diabetic retinopathy involves both medical intervention and treating the eyes. The medical intervention involves controlling blood sugar and treating other diabetes complications. The ophthalmologist may treat the condition using a surgical procedure or laser treatment. 


The procedures help prevent more vascular changes, preserving the vision. Laser treatment or photocoagulation works by sealing off the leaking vessels, reducing swelling. Vitrectomy surgery may be used when laser treatment fails to stop the growth of new blood vessels.


Diabetic Retinopathy Prevention


There are some things that you can do to prevent diabetic retinopathy. Ensuring good blood sugar control and getting routine eye exams can help slow or prevent retinal damage. Having near-normal blood sugar levels can reduce the chances of developing the condition. 


It can also prevent existing diabetic retinopathy from becoming worse. The doctor can provide guidelines to help in blood sugar control. Insulin therapy, dietary changes, and exercise can help in prevention. 


Routine eye screening is the best way to ensure early detection of retinopathy and other eye conditions. Diabetic patients should have regular comprehensive eye exams with frequent screening. This depends on the severity of the condition.


For more on diabetic retinopathy, contact Eye Care Center at our offices in Fridley, Maplewood, or Maple Grove, Minnesota. You can call (763) 308-8440, (651) 777-3555, or (763) 420-6981 today to schedule an appointment.

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