Diabetes is a chronic health condition caused by your body’s inability to manage blood sugar. High levels of sugar in your blood can cause severe damage throughout your body.
Excess glucose in your blood damages blood vessels, and your eyes do not avoid this deterioration. Diabetes can severely damage them.
There are several ways in which diabetes can affect your vision. These include an increased risk of developing cataracts, glaucoma, and other eye conditions.
One eye condition, in particular, to be mindful of is diabetic retinopathy. It’s the most common diabetic eye condition, and if left untreated, can cause vision loss.
Keep reading to learn more about diabetic retinopathy and if it should concern you or not.
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy affects the retina, a photosensitive sheet lining the back wall of your eyes. It is a thin, fragile tissue that detects light.
It is critical for eyesight. Any damage to it can cause permanent vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy damages the blood vessels in your retina. This damage can cause fluid leaks and the growth of unhealthy new blood vessels. All this can result in damage to your eyesight or vision loss.
How Does Diabetes Cause Diabetic Retinopathy?
As blood sugar increases, it begins to block the blood vessels that flow to your retina. Without a steady blood supply, the eye attempts to create new blood vessels to circumvent the problem.
But, these blood vessels grow too quickly and are weak and malformed. This weakness causes them to leak fluid into your eye.
This stage of the condition is called proliferative diabetic retinopathy. The hastily formed blood vessels can cause scarring as they repeatedly break and heal.
This scar tissue behind the retina can push it off of the wall of your eye in a process called retinal detachment. A detached retina alone is a threat to your eyesight.
Diabetic retinopathy causes fluid to leak out of blood vessels into your eye. This leaking also causes various problems which can impact your vision.
Can You Prevent Diabetic Retinopathy?
Usually, diabetic retinopathy gets diagnosed early, before new blood vessels grow. Diabetic retinopathy is detectable during a dilated eye exam.
At this early stage of diabetic retinopathy, you can prevent vision loss by managing blood sugar levels. But timely treatment is vital because your original blood vessels can weaken during the early stages and begin to leak.
Early-stage symptoms may include blurry and fluctuating vision and an increase in floaters. Floaters are the strings and spots that drift across your vision and are a symptom of retina issues.
Managing your blood sugar levels is the best way to prevent diabetic retinopathy. Excess glucose in your blood is what damages your body and blood vessels when you have diabetes.
Quitting tobacco use also helps prevent diabetic complications like diabetic retinopathy. Besides that, living a healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent vision loss from diabetes.
Can You Treat Diabetic Retinopathy?
If your diabetic retinopathy has progressed to an advanced stage, treatment is more complicated and less effective. Medications can get injected directly into your eye to halt the production of new blood vessels.
Leaks can also get closed with lasers in a process called photocoagulation. The light from the lasers seals the leaks to prevent more fluid from getting in your eye.
Another standard treatment is a vitrectomy. It removes the gel-like substance that fills your eye, called the vitreous.
Once the vitreous is out, your surgeon can close the leaking blood vessels. Then they refill your eye with a saline or oil solution to keep its shape.
But, prevention is always better than treatment. Schedule an appointment at Colorado Eye Consultants in Littleton, CO. Ensure your retinas are safe from diabetes.