Could You Have Diabetic Retinopathy?

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The term diabetic retinopathy is an umbrella term for diabetes-related vision or eye problems. At first, diabetic retinopathy may not result in any problems but eventually, due to blood vessels becoming damaged, diabetic retinopathy can result in blindness. Anyone with types 1 or 2 diabetes can develop diabetic retinopathy. Read on to learn more about this condition!

Symptoms Of Diabetic Retinopathy

At first, you may not experience any symptoms at all, but as diabetic retinopathy progresses, symptoms may include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Fluctuating vision changes
  • Floaters (seeing dark spots or strings in your line of sight)
  • Total loss of vision

It should be noted that diabetic retinopathy usually occurs in both eyes.

When To Call Your Doctor

First and foremost, if you are diabetic, it’s essential that you follow your doctor’s treatment plan to properly manage it. Diabetics should be seeing their eye doctor once a year for a dilated eye exam, even if they notice no vision changes. Pregnant women with diabetes may be referred for multiple eye exams during the duration of the pregnancy, as pregnancy itself can worsen diabetic retinopathy. If you notice vision changes such as haziness, blurriness, or spotty vision, call your doctor at Stahl Eyecare Experts right away.

What Causes Diabetic Retinopathy?

Poorly managed diabetes and blood sugar levels are at the root cause of diabetic retinopathy. This condition occurs when the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina are cut off by too much sugar in the blood. The eye will attempt to grow new blood vessels, but due to lack of blood supply, they will not develop properly.

Early Diabetic Retinopathy

Easy diabetic retinopathy is the most common form of the condition and is referred to medically as nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR). In this form of diabetic retinopathy, new blood vessels are not growing and the walls of retinal blood vessels start to weaken. This can lead to leaking of fluid and blood into the retina. The condition can become severe as more blood vessels become blocked.

Advanced Diabetic Retinopathy

As indicated by the name, advanced diabetic retinopathy is the more severe version of the condition. This form is called proliferative diabetic retinopathy. When the condition reaches this stage, the already damaged blood vessels close off, resulting in growth of abnormal retinal blood vessels. These abnormal blood vessels may leak a clear jelly-like substance that fills the center of the patient’s eye. Scar tissue may eventually cause the retina to detach, resulting in glaucoma.

Risk Factors

  • Diabetes
  • Duration of diabetes (risk increases with time)
  • High blood pressure
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking or other use of tobacco
  • High cholesterol
  • Those of African-American, Latin-American, and Native American descent are also at increased risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.


Diabetic retinopathy can’t always be prevented, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. This can be as simple as getting 150 minutes of physical activity per week, managing your diabetes and blood sugar properly, and seeing your doctor regularly.

Have additional questions about diabetic retinopathy or need to come up with a treatment plan? Schedule an appointment with Stahl Eyecare Experts!

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