Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and is the leading cause of legal blindness among working Americans. What is most concerning is that one may have developed diabetic retinopathy without knowing it. However, by the time it has significantly affected the vision, the disease may have progressed so significantly that even after treatment is applied and the disease does improve, the vision may not return to what it was before.
Diabetic retinopathy results from damage to the blood vessels that supply the retina. It is the leading cause of visual loss in adults age 20 to 64 years of age, and afflicts approximately 90 percent of patients who have had diabetes for 15 years or more. Juvenile diabetics are especially prone to the disease at an early age. The condition may be aggravated by pregnancy or high blood pressure. Fortunately, most visual loss can be prevented with regular eye examinations and early treatment.
How Diabetes Affects Your Vision
Diabetes is a disease in which the body's ability to regulate blood sugar becomes impaired. When blood sugar is out of control, your lens swells, causing nearsightedness. Changing your eyeglass prescription during periods of poor glucose control is generally not recommended because this condition is usually temporary. Diabetes also increases your risk of developing serious vision problems including cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and double vision.
Types of Diabetic Retinopathy
Background retinopathy, an early stage of the condition (Fig. 1) involves changes in the blood vessels within the retina. Some shrink, others grow, to form balloon-like sacs which may leak or hemorrhage. In the majority of cases, sight is not seriously affected. However, this is a warning sign that a sight-endangering condition could occur in the future, so more frequent eye exams are required to monitor for further deterioration.
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a chronic eye disease associated with degenerative changes specifically in an area of the retina called macula. Macula is responsible for our central vision that catches the fine details of an image. >> Read more
Retinal detachment is a separation of the light-sensitive membrane in the back of the eye (the retina) from its supporting layers. Most patients with a retinal detachment will need surgery, either immediately or after a short period of time. (However, surgery may not be needed if you do not have symptoms or have had the detachment for a while.)
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