Diabetic Retinopathy 101: Causes, Stages, and Treatment

by Apr 3, 2017

Diabetes occurs when your body fails to produce an adequate amount of insulin. It can affect many organs in your body, including your eyes, where it can cause a complication known as diabetic retinopathy. Here, your reliable eye doctor from the Neal Eye Group discusses this condition in detail.

Understanding Diabetic Retinopathy

The back part of your eyes is lined with light-sensitive tissue called the retina, which is responsible for converting light into nerve signals that the optic nerve then carries to the brain for interpretation. Diabetes causes increased sugar levels in your blood, making it more viscous. This can cause sluggish blood flow, as well as limited nutrient and oxygen delivery to your eyes. Eventually, this can hinder your retina’s ability to convert light into nerve signals, resulting in vision problems.

Phases and Manifestations

Diabetic retinopathy is usually asymptomatic during the early or non-proliferative phase. As the condition progresses, your retinal blood vessels may start to weaken, which can cause them to rupture prematurely, leaking blood into your macula. This can cause central vision problems, such as difficulties distinguishing colors and image details even when you’re wearing eyeglasses.

In the advanced or proliferative stage, your eyes compensate for the reduced oxygen levels by growing abnormal blood vessels,. The new blood vessels are fragile and break easily, leading to blood deposits in your eyes. This will cause vision loss. This bleeding also may cause scar tissue to form, which can pull on the retina causing a retinal detachment. Without prompt treatment, these conditions can lead to blindness.

Our Recommended Management

The key factor to managing diabetes and its complications is regulating your blood sugar levels. We recommend following your doctor’s prescribed medications, diet, and lifestyle changes. We also strongly advise having a comprehensive eye exam regularly, especially if diabetes runs in your family. The earlier we detect this disease and keep track of changes in the back of the eye, the better chances we have of halting its progression whcih lead to vision loss.

If you have any further questions about diabetic retinopathy, call us today at (610) 813-2988. We serve Conshohocken, Philadelphia, and Plymouth Meeting, PA.

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