There are over 425 million people in the world who have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes you may be at risk for a sight threatening disease called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy can lead to vision problems and even blindness if left untreated. When your body is faced with high blood sugar levels it causes damage to the blood vessels located in the retina. High blood sugar levels cause the blood vessels to swell and leak. These changes can cause vision loss in diabetic patients of all ages. It is estimated that 80% of diabetic patients will eventually develop some stage of diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is fairly common in diabetics and the longer you have had diabetes, the greater your risk factor is. Additionally, those with poor control of their blood sugar have an increased risk of developing retinopathy. For every 1% increase in hemoglobin A1c over 7% there is a 50% increased risk in developing proliferative diabetic retinopathy. The team at Clarkson Eyecare are experts at diagnosing diabetic retinopathy and helping patients manage their condition.
Clarkson Eyecare has diabetic retinopathy specialists in Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, New Jersey, Virginia, Georgia, and Florida. Click to find a location near you.
What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Those who have had diabetes for an extended period of time are more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common form of diabetic eye disease. It occurs when high blood sugar levels cause changes that damage blood vessels in the retina. These changes can cause swelling to the vessels (macular edema) and leak fluid into the rear of the eye. If diabetic retinopathy goes untreated it will gradually become more serious and as it progresses it can affect your vision and lead to blindness. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of acquired blindness in patients over age 65.
Diabetic macular edema (DME) occurs when there is fluid build up in the macula which is the central portion of the retina that we use whenever we look straight ahead. This area of the retina is responsible for our clearest vision. Diabetic macular edema is responsible for about 50% of vision loss in patients with diabetic retinopathy. If you have diabetes, you should have a dilated eye examination at least once every year to check for diabetic retinopathy.
Advanced Treatment Options for Diabetic Retinopathy
Our doctors at Clarkson Eyecare are highly skilled in diagnosing patients with diabetic retinopathy and managing their conditions. We understand the dangerous implications and time-sensitive manner in approaching this health condition. Your treatment will be based on what your expert ophthalmologist sees in your eyes. A few treatment options are:
Laser surgery which reduces the demand in the retina for new blood vessel growth.This can reduce bleeding and swelling of the retina.
Medications such as Avastin, Eylea, and Lucentis. These medications help stop new leaky blood vessel growth and ultimately reduce swelling of the macula and slow the vision loss process.
Risk Factors for Diabetic Retinopathy
If you have any of the following risk factors it is important that you have a retinopathy screening examination as soon as possible.
Protein in urine
Poor blood glucose control (Fasting blood sugar above 100, A1c over 7% or any blood glucose reading over 200)
Raised fats in the blood
High blood pressure
If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes you are at risk for developing diabetic retinopathy. Because the condition is caused by increased blood sugar, monitoring your blood glucose levels closely, watching your diet, and exercising is important.
If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes please give us a call to schedule an appointment at your nearest Clarkson Eyecare location. Our expert doctors are ready to give retinal screenings and get you on your treatment plan for healthier eyes.
Diabetic retinopathy is caused by changes in blood sugar levels. If you have high blood sugar or if your blood sugar fluctuates significantly it can cause changes in the retinal blood vessels, which can lead to the vessels swelling and leaking fluid into the eye.
The best way to diagnose diabetic retinopathy is with a comprehensive dilated eye exam. You should expect your eye doctor to put drops in your eyes to dilate your pupils to better view inside your eyes. The drops can cause your close vision to blur for several hours after.
Diabetics should have a complete eye exam at least once a year. Your primary care physician may recommend more regular screenings based on the extent of your retinal damage and any other complications/risk factors.