If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, controlling your blood sugar levels is vitally important for your health and wellbeing. However, did you know that managing your diabetes effectively is also essential for you to maintain your eyesight? Many people are unaware that there is a serious eye condition, known as diabetic retinopathy, that can develop in patients with diabetes and if it isn’t treated promptly, it could cause you to lose your vision.
Here is what you need to know about diabetic retinopathy including all-important information about how to avoid it!
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that is fairly common amongst people who have been diagnosed with diabetes, particularly if they have been suffering from the condition for some time. In fact, diabetic retinopathy has been found to affect 80% of people who have had diabetes for upwards of 20 years.
The retina is an integral part of our eyes. This light-sensitive layer of cells which is right at the very back of the eye is responsible for turning the light that hits it into electrical signals. These signals are then sent to our brain which determines what we can see. However, for the retina to work properly it needs a constant supply of blood which it gets through a complex network of tiny blood vessels. Unfortunately, over time, patients who have persistently high blood sugar levels tend to experience damage to these blood vessels which prevents them from serving the retina as well as they should. This occurs in three distinct stages.
In the earliest stage of diabetic retinopathy, tiny bulges develop in the blood vessels. They may bleed slightly, but there shouldn’t be any real impact on your vision.
As the condition progresses, more severe changes affect the blood vessels causing greater amounts of bleeding into the eye. Again, your vision should be largely undisturbed and treatment at this stage could prevent the problem from worsening.
By this stage, scar tissue and new blood vessels, which are weak and bleed easily, develop on the retina. At this point, you can expect to start experiencing noticeable vision loss.
In most instances, the initial symptoms of diabetic retinopathy are subtle and easily overlooked until the condition has progressed. At this point, some of the signs of diabetic retinopathy to be aware of include:
Gradually worsening vision
Shapes floating in your field of vision
Redness around the eyes
Sudden vision loss
These signs can be indicative of other eye diseases too, so it is important to see your eye doctor as soon as possible to determine what is causing your symptoms.
If you suffer from diabetes, you will likely be invited to attend an appointment where your eyes will be screened to check for diabetic retinopathy. Early detection and treatment could potentially save your vision. In the meantime, there are some things that you can do to reduce your risk of developing this potentially serious condition. These include:
Ensuring that you control your blood sugar as much as possible by sticking to guidelines regarding your diet and medication
Attending any diabetic retinopathy and regular eye screening appointments
Controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol levels
Eating a healthy, balanced diet
Maintaining a healthy weight
Obtaining advice as soon as possible should you suffer from unusual or sudden changes to your vision
If you are concerned that you may have some of the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, don’t delay in seeking professional advice as it could help you to preserve your vision. Contact our offices today to arrange an appointment with our experienced eye care team at Cleburne Eye Clinic in Cleburne, TX at (817) 645-2411.