People with diabetes quickly learn that dysregulated blood sugar can affect several aspects of health. After a diabetes diagnosis, it is imperative that the patient maintain annual dilated eye exams during which the ophthalmologist will check their eyes for diabetic retinopathy. This condition is one of the leading causes of vision loss. The risk to the eyes increases the longer a person lives with diabetes and the more dysregulated their blood sugar levels are. These annual exams also serve to answer important questions. One that most patients have is can diabetic retinopathy be cured? The answer to this question is, unfortunately, no. There is no cure for diabetic retinopathy. There are, however, ways to manage the condition and slow its progression.
If you have diabetes, there are important questions to ask your ophthalmologist about this condition.
What are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?
It is important to know how to spot the signs of diabetes related eye changes so treatment to mitigate the condition can begin right away. Some of the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:
- Blurred or fluctuating vision
- Impaired color vision
- Spots and flashes in the field of vision
- Vision loss
The symptoms of diabetic retinopathy may differ depending on the type of condition a person has. There are two ways that this condition is classified:
- Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy is an early-stage condition. It involves the breaking of retinal blood vessels and leakage of blood onto the retina at the back of the eye.
- Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is more advanced and involves the growth of new but abnormal blood vessels in the retina. These vessels leak and may cause scar tissue to form. This poses a risk of retinal detachment and vision loss.
People diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy are at risk for other eye diseases that also threaten the quality of vision and pose a risk of vision loss. These include macular edema and neovascular glaucoma.
Studies have shown that the primary risk factors for diabetic retinopathy are high blood sugar levels and high blood pressure. Some of the best ways that patients can reduce their risks associated with diabetic retinopathy are to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. This can be achieved with help from a primary care physician or nutritionist. An ophthalmologist can assist with managing the health of the eyes with direct treatment.
Dr. Sondheimer is an experienced ophthalmologist who offers customized treatment for diabetic retinopathy and many other eye diseases. Contact us today to schedule your comprehensive eye exam.