What You Should Know about Diabetic Retinopathy

senior man with glucometer checking blood sugar level at home Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects millions of people. Because diabetes involves the dysregulation of blood glucose levels, it can affect nearly every part of the body in some way. The eyes are not exempt. The eyes have fine, delicate blood vessels that nourish them. When blood sugar is consistently elevated, these blood vessels can swell and leak. The fluid that seeps from the blood vessels can settle around and behind the retina, causing it to detach. Additionally, the excess fluid at the back of the eye can cause conditions like diabetic macular edema (DME), neovascular glaucoma, and retinal detachment. So, the first thing that you want to know about diabetic retinopathy is how to recognize the signs. These include:

  • Colors appear faded or washed out
  • Halos around lights
  • Blurry vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Dark or empty areas of your vision
  • An increasing number of “floaters”
  • Loss of central vision

What You May Want to Know About Diabetic Retinopathy

Early Detection Lowers Risk

Diabetic retinopathy is a progressive, potentially serious condition. While it is important to recognize symptoms, the most ideal situation would be to address the condition preventatively. According to data, the risk of vision loss from diabetic retinopathy can be reduced by as much as 95% when the disease is detected and treated early. If you have diabetes and have not yet seen an ophthalmologist, now is the time to do so. Having a board-certified ophthalmologist on your medical team is integral to slowing the extended consequences of diabetes as it they relate to the eyes. After your consultation, you should have a clear understanding of your eye health, how your eyes are affected by blood sugar levels, and how you can prevent vision loss due to leaking blood vessels in the eye. If new symptoms occur in between routine eye exams, contact the office.

Know The Risk Factors

The most obvious and significant risk factor for diabetic retinopathy is having diabetes. However, additional conditions related to that diagnosis can increase the risk of eye damage. These include:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Having diabetes for a prolonged period
  • Uncontrolled blood sugar
  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy

Can You Prevent Diabetic Retinopathy?

If you have diabetes, are you guaranteed to get diabetic retinopathy? Perhaps not. You may be able to prevent or postpone the onset of this condition if you get a handle on your blood sugar levels right away. The longer you have diabetes and the longer that your blood sugar is unmanaged, the greater the risk to your eyes and other parts of your body. Your primary care doctor or a nutritionist, or even online support can help you manage blood sugar levels. Additionally, you should see your eye doctor every year. Doing so allows your doctor to get a baseline of your eye health and monitor it for the subtlest changes over time.

Get ahead of diabetic retinopathy. Schedule your eye exam at our Skokie, IL office at 847-677-2794.

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