Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy Stages

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness or vision loss throughout North America. People with this disease can develop a condition called diabetic retinopathy. If you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, then you are 25 times more likely to experience vision loss from diabetic retinopathy than people who do not have diabetes.

Diabetic retinopathy develops when there is a change of blood vessels in the retina. In its earliest stages, people won’t often notice any symptoms. However, as it progresses, vision loss can take place, and when it gets to that stage, it cannot be reversed.

If you are at risk for having diabetic retinopathy, there are many steps you can take to prevent this disease from occurring.

More on Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy has two different types:

• Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR)
• Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR)

NPDR is the earliest form of the disease. In this stage, the retinal blood vessels leak fluid or blood, and this can cause swelling of the macula (macular oedema). If this takes place, central vision can be damaged.

PDR is the more advanced stage of the disease. During this form of the disease, the blood vessels in the retina vanish and are displaced by new vessels that bleed easily. As a result, vision loss can occur quite suddenly.

Diabetic Retinopathy Symptoms

There are no symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. Unfortunately, there likely won’t be signs of vision loss until the disease is more advanced. However, if you have late stage symptoms, these include the following:

• Eye strain
• Blurred vision
• Headaches

Diabetic Retinopathy Causes

All people with diabetes are at risk for developing this condition, and diabetic retinopathy usually results from a diabetic complication. Here are other risk factors of this disease:

• Race (Hispanics and African Americans are at greater risk)
• Medical conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol
• Pregnancy (pregnant women can develop gestational diabetes, which could increase the likelihood of diabetic retinopathy)

Getting a Handle on Diabetic Retinopathy

If you are worried you are at risk for developing diabetic retinopathy, there are many steps you can take to ensure that your vision is protected. Here are some strategies that can help with prevention:

• Maintaining control of your blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol
• Getting regular eye exams (it is especially important to have eyes tested once diabetes is first diagnosed)
• Taking diabetes medication regularly
• Sticking to a healthy diet
• Regular exercise
• Avoiding alcohol and smoking

If you do develop diabetic retinopathy, the proper treatment for this disease is extremely important. If diabetic retinopathy is not treated, vision loss or blindness can occur.

A family doctor, optometrist, or specialist can help provide treatment. This may include laser treatment to prevent vision loss (for macular edema and proliferative retinopathy). This type of procedure seals leaking blood vessels and can also shrink new vessels and prevent them from growing.

If the case is severe and a patient does not respond to the laser treatment, they can undergo surgery. The surgery is called a vitrectomy and entails removing the vitreous gel in the patient’s eyes. This surgery is particularly helpful in improving vision in people who have bleeding in the vitreous gel (vitreous hemorrhage), retinal detachment, or a severe case of scar tissue formation. However, a vitrectomy will not cure the disease, but it will drastically improve the symptoms.

Contact Dr. Ghosheh Today!

Dr. Ghosheh and the staff at Advanced Medical Care is dedicated to providing every patient with the gift of clearer eyesight. Clearer vision can give you a better quality of life, so if you have any concerns regarding your vision health, please do not hesitate to call.  Contact Dr. Ghosheh today for a consultation.