Diabetic Retinopathy: The Causes, Symptoms And How To Alleviate It
Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common conditions encountered by ophthalmologic patients who suffer from diabetes. It is an eye disease that damages blood vessels within the retina. It typically affects both eyes, and patients with Type I or Type II diabetes are both at risk of developing this disease.
Diabetic retinopathy symptoms
In the early stages of the disease, there are no typical exclusive symptoms which set diabetic retinopathy apart from other eye conditions. As it begins to set, diabetic retinopathy usually causes retinal swelling due to a leakage of fluid from the retinal blood vessels. This eventually manifests itself as distorted or blurred vision.
As the disease progresses, the displacement of receptors located within the retina will cause objects to appear as abnormally small, abnormally large as well as causing objects to appear blurry or distorted. Patients who experience fast-onset blurred vision, floating spots or “floaters” in their vision are advised to contact professional healthcare provider or eye specialists immediately, as these symptoms can be the sign of a serious issue.
Untreated diabetic retinopathy may result in severe vision loss or blindness. The earlier the patient receives treatment, the more likely they will achieve effective results which could save their eyesight.
The stages of diabetic retinopathy
This disease typically progresses in four distinct stages, which are noticeable by the following occurrences:
- Mild non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy: This stage involves the presence of minor swelling, which occurs in small regions within the small retinal blood vessels.
- Moderate non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy: This stage involves the swelling of the blood vessels within the retina until they are completely blocked.
- Severe non-proliferative retinopathy: This is when the blockage of the retinal blood vessels results in malnourishment of the retina. This results in the body attempting to create new blood vessels.
- Proliferative retinopathy – Newly formed blood vessels are developed along the retinal surface. These vessels are incredibly fragile and tend to bleed, causing a haemorrhage which eventually results in blindness. Because these vessels are so fragile, they are also prone to leaking which can result in macular edema (retention) which causes severe vision loss and eventual blindness over a prolonged period.
Diabetic retinopathy diagnosis
As eye specialists, we can typically diagnose diabetic retinopathy during a routine eye examination – even when it’s in those crucial early stages. From here, we can monitor and observe the eyes for blood vessel leakage and other symptoms associated with the condition. We can even help patients in the latter stages of proliferative retinopathy. It is possible to employ laser treatments to shrink fragile new blood vessels before they leak or otherwise damage the eye. This helps to preserve your remaining sight.
Preventing diabetic retinopathy
To prevent this disease, diabetic patients are advised to carefully monitor blood pressure, blood sugar level and blood cholesterol. By maintaining good overall health, patients can prevent the occurrence of not just diabetic retinopathy, but other serious illnesses as well.
Get in touch with South Bay Eye Care for your Diabetic retinopathy test.
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