Every diabetic patient is at risk for developing vision problems like diabetic retinopathy. But what is diabetic retinopathy, exactly?
Who is at risk, what are the causes, and what can you do decrease your risks of developing it? Read on and learn what you need to know about diabetic retinopathy!
Causes of Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy is typically associated with high blood sugar levels. In diabetics, this means that their blood sugar levels are not under control.
This causes damage to the retinal blood vessels, resulting in diabetic retinopathy. The condition can also result in blood vessels leaking fluid or bursting. This can lead to distorted vision and vision loss.
Who is at Risk for Diabetic Retinopathy?
Anyone with diabetes is at high risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. The risk of developing the condition increases with time.
The longer you have diabetes, the higher your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Up to 45% of diabetic patients have diabetic retinopathy but only half are aware they have it.
Women with gestational diabetes are at risk for rapid onset of diabetic retinopathy. They are also at risk of rapid worsening of the condition.
Gestational diabetes occurs when the placenta makes hormones that increase glucose levels. When this builds up, your pancreas can’t handle increased glucose levels and insulin. If there’s not enough insulin produced, blood sugars increase and cause gestational diabetes.
What Are the Symptoms?
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy are troublesome because the condition often develops without symptoms. For many patients with diabetic retinopathy, it is only diagnosed after vision loss.
With few symptoms, diabetics need to be proactive and get regular eye exams! With regular eye exams, your eye doctor can keep an eye on any issues before they are a problem.
Can you prevent diabetic retinopathy?
You can’t prevent diabetic retinopathy, but you can do your part to reduce your risk level. Patients with diabetes (types 1 and 2) should keep their blood sugar under control.
This means they should manage their blood sugar and see their doctors regularly. This includes primary care physicians and eye doctors.
Diabetics should also have dilated eye exams every year. Early detection and treatment are known to reduce the patient’s risk of blindness up to 95 percent.
Studies have shown that controlling diabetes can slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy. This is the case for diabetics who already have the condition.
Diabetics can reduce their risk of diabetic retinopathy by following healthy habits. These include having normal ranges for blood pressure and cholesterol.
If you are pregnant with gestational diabetes or are diabetic, see your eye doctor. Throughout your pregnancy, you should have regular eye check-ups as well.
What Do I Need to Do?
The only real defense against diabetic retinopathy is being proactive about your eye and vision health. This is true for both diabetics and non-diabetics. You should maintain a regular schedule with your eye doctor.
Dilated eye exams will allow your eye doctor to perform thorough exams. Catching diabetic retinopathy early can result in minimal vision changes.
Need more information about diabetic retinopathy? Schedule a screening with Stahl Eyecare Experts in Long Island today!