For those who have diabetes, a balanced diet and dedication to a medication regimen not only help your major organs to function but can also protect your vision. Uncontrolled blood sugar can threaten your eye health and even damage your eyesight.
If you have diabetes, it’s important to educate yourself about the risks associated with your vision. Keep reading to learn three things to know about diabetic retinopathy!
1. Diabetic Retinopathy Can Cause Vision Loss if Left Untreated
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that affects the retina. The retina, located at the back of the eye, is a light-sensitive tissue.
When light reaches the retina, it initiates a series of signals that are then transmitted to the brain, where they are transformed into visual images.
Over time, high blood sugar damages the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina, causing blockages and cutting off the blood supply.
Blockages in the blood vessels and reduced blood flow to the retina can be a significant issue. They can weaken the walls of the blood vessels and cause new, abnormal, weak blood vessels to grow.
Tiny bulges form, sometimes leaking fluid and blood into the retina. This blurs and distorts the light signals sent to the brain.
Spots or dark strings in your vision, blurred or fluctuating vision, and dark or missing spots are all symptoms of diabetic retinopathy. Untreated, these conditions can affect your vision, leading to loss of sight.
2. Diabetic Retinopathy is More Likely to Occur in People With Uncontrolled Blood Sugar
In later stage diabetic retinopathy, new abnormal blood vessels grow to compensate for the damaged blood vessels in the retina. However, these are more likely to leak into the vitreous, the clear, jellylike substance that fills the eye.
Over time, scar tissue forms, which pulls on the retina and can lead to retinal detachment. In some cases, the scar tissue can grow over the drainage channels of the eye.
This can prevent the normal flow of fluid out of the eye and cause your eye pressure to rise. If the pressure is not reduced, this will eventually damage the optic nerve and affect your vision.
Treatments exist to minimize the impact of diabetic retinopathy, but controlling blood sugar is an essential first step. Proper blood sugar management can slow the progression of the disease.
3. Diabetic Retinopathy Often Requires Treatment
If the eye condition has worsened to the point where you need treatment, various options are available.
Anti-VEGF medications can be injected into the vitreous of the eye. This can help prevent the growth of new blood vessels.
Topical anesthesia is used for these injections, which helps you stay comfortable. You will need to have regular injections to ensure that the eye condition stays under control.
Leakage of blood and fluid in the eye can be stopped or slowed by a laser treatment known as photocoagulation or focal laser treatment. The laser is applied to shrink and scar the abnormal blood vessels.
It can be done during an office visit or as an eye clinic procedure. Blurry vision for a day or two after the laser surgery is common.
While treatments are possible, it’s best to manage diabetes and watch blood sugar levels carefully so these more invasive procedures aren’t required.
Are you experiencing symptoms of diabetic retinopathy? Schedule an appointment at Eye Health Northwest in Happy Valley, OR, today!