Are you experiencing overall blurred vision or having trouble reading small print AND you have diabetes? You might be experiencing Diabetic Retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy is the eye condition that results from diabetes, both Type I insulin dependent, and Type II, typically non-insulin dependent. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when blood vessels stop feeding the retina properly. In its early stages, the blood vessels may leak fluid in the retina, which can affect the macula, the entire retina, or the vitreous gel (a clear substance that fills the interior of the eye). In the later stages of the condition, new vessels may grow and send blood into the center of the eye, causing serious vision loss that can lead to blindness. Approximately 40 percent of people with diabetes have at least mild retinopathy. The incidence increases with the condition’s duration and when blood glucose cannot be controlled.
Diabetic Retinopathy at a Glance:
- Occurs when diabetes damages the tiny blood vessels inside the retina. Blood vessels may leak, causing eye damage leading to blurry vision or blind spots.
- Can also lead to a greater risk of experiencing vision loss from cataracts and glaucoma.
- Is an “at risk” condition for all people with diabetes, both Type 1 and Type 2. Nearly half of all people with diabetes have some stage of diabetic retinopathy.
- Poses especially high risk for older people who are African American, Latino, or Native American.
- Can be slowed, or even prevented, by better control of blood sugar levels, according to recent studies.
- Often doesn’t produce symptoms until after the condition has already become serious.
Laser surgery is a possible treatment that places several small burns into the retina where there is leakage or abnormal blood vessel growth. Depending on how severe the leakage, several treatments may be required.
Another treatment is vitrectomy, where the blood-filled vitreous gel is removed and replaced with a salt solution. The salt solution is similar to the vitreous gel before the leakage.
Possible Signs of Diabetic Retinopathy:
Sometimes, diabetic retinopathy occurs without signs, which is why people with diabetes should have a routine, annual, dilated eye exam.
Possible signs include:
- Blurred vision or blind spots as a result of bleeding in the eye
- Variations in focus
- Faulty color vision