The health complications arising from diabetes affect many parts and systems in your body, and the eyes are no exception. Diabetic retinopathy affects the blood vessels in your eyes, at the surface of focus, the retina. Left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can lead to blindness, so book a consultation with the eye care professionals at the Witlin Center for Advanced Eye Care, serving East Brunswick, Toms River, and Morristown, New Jersey. Call or click for an appointment today.
Uncontrolled high blood sugar levels take their toll on blood vessels throughout your body. Even when under control, the longer you have diabetes, the more likely problems are to develop. When the blood vessels in the retina become damaged, your eyesight is at risk, and the problem could lead to blindness.
In the early stages of the condition, there are few symptoms, if any. As damage from diabetic retinopathy gets worse, symptoms can include:
If you have diabetes, you may already know that annual vision exams are important, even if you have no obvious symptoms. Diabetic retinopathy can’t be cured, but management can help limit further damage.
Leading to abnormal growth and regeneration of blood vessels in the retina, diabetic retinopathy can have some serious effects on your vision.
Vitreous hemorrhage occurs when new blood vessels aren’t fully formed and these bleed into the jelly-like fluid that fills the eye, called the vitreous. Minor cases may produce a few dark floaters in your eyes, and it’s possible for this condition to reverse. Serious cases can, however, completely block your vision as blood fills the cavity normally holding the vitreous.
Glaucoma usually occurs when pressure inside the eye increases. This may be aggravated as the abnormal blood vessels associated with diabetic retinopathy block the normal drainage channels of the eye. When pressure develops to the point where the optic nerve is affected, glaucoma begins to take its toll on your eyesight.
A detached retina may result if diabetic retinopathy causes scar tissue that pulls the retina away from the back surface of the eye. This may cause floating spots, bright flashes, or extreme vision loss.
Controlling diabetes is the first step in treatment, to slow the progress of its complications. There are several surgical treatments once diabetic retinopathy reaches advanced stages.
Laser treatments can slow, stop, or shrink abnormal blood vessels. A procedure called a vitrectomy can remove blood from the vitreous along with retinal scar tissue.
While treating diabetic retinopathy can slow or stop its progression, these treatments aren’t cures, and further problems could arise later.