Diabetic retinopathy is a very serious complication of diabetes that, without treatment, can ultimately lead to blindness. The condition can develop in anyone suffering from type 1 or type 2 diabetes that does not properly control their blood sugar; in fact, the less controlled your blood sugar is, the more likely you are to suffer from this condition. That’s because diabetic retinopathy is caused by excess sugar in the blood that damages the small blood vessels in and beneath the retina, so the more sugar there is in your blood, the more damage that can be done to your retina.
There are two forms of diabetic retinopathy: proliferative and non-proliferative. In proliferative diabetic retinopathy, excess sugar in the blood obstructs the blood vessels, leading the eye to develop abnormal new blood vessels in an attempt to get nourishment to the retina. In other words, this form of the condition leads to a proliferation of new, abnormal blood vessels in the eye that can cause bleeding and scar tissue, leading to blindness. In non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy, the obstructed vessels leak fluid into the retina, leading to swelling and damage of the retina.
Diagnosing Diabetic Retinopathy
Both forms of diabetic retinopathy are generally diagnosed from a comprehensive eye exam. During this exam, a physician uses eye drops to dilate the pupils, allowing them to more completely inspect the eye. They will be looking for structural defects, swelling, bleeding, or abnormal blood vessels that would indicate that the blood vessels feeding the retina are partially or completely obstructed.
Treating Diabetic Retinopathy
One of the most effective ways to treat diabetic retinopathy, especially in the early stages, is to better control your blood sugar. Excess sugar in the blood is the root cause of this condition, so if you can manage your diabetes, you can prevent diabetic retinopathy from progressing. Regardless of the status of your diabetes, it is critical to schedule routine eye exams to ensure that your eyes are not being damaged by the disease.
If your diabetic retinopathy is advanced, there are a number of treatment options available to you. Call Center for Sight at 850-476-9236 for an appointment to discuss your treatment options.