Diabetic Eye Care

When dealing with diabetes, a yearly comprehensive eye exam is recommended. The symptoms of diabetic retinopathy are not visual, making a yearly (dilated) eye exam with us crucial for those with diabetes. Easy ways to prevent retinopathy include controlling high blood pressure, sticking to a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and taking all prescribed medications.

Diabetic retinopathy can be entirely preventable if your diabetes is kept under control. There are two types of diabetic retinopathy: non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR).

Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy is considered the earliest stage of diabetic retinopathy and often has very few visual symptoms. During this stage, the blood vessels in the retina begin to weaken, causing the vessels to develop tiny bulges called microaneurysms. These microaneurysms end up leaking fluid into the retina, in turn making the macula damaged and swelled.

In proliferative diabetic retinopathy, the disease has progressed and is more advanced. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is the stage in which the retina becomes deprived of oxygen. The blood vessels in the retina close, preventing blood flow. The retina will attempt to grow new blood vessels, which tend to be weak and can leak blood into the vitreous – the gel-like substance that fills the space between the lens and the retina. This leakage can cause floaters or clouded vision.

Though the early stages of this condition present no visual symptoms, you may experience these symptoms as diabetic retinopathy progresses:

  • Spots or floaters
  • Blurred or hazy vision
  • Fluctuating Vision
  • Dark or empty areas in your vision
  • Pressure within the eye

Treatment of diabetic retinopathy depends on what stage of the disease a patient may be in. Regular monitoring is usually the only treatment option when the disease is in the non-proliferative stages, along with following a healthy diet and regular exercise. These simple fixes can be enough to control blood sugar levels, which can lead to a slower progression of diabetic retinopathy.