Diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of vision loss and blindness in the US. Fortunately, it is largely preventable and treatable if addressed early. Diabetes causes damage to the tiny vessels of the retina, affecting the blood supply that nourishes the retina. Abnormal blood vessels grow in response to the lack of nourishment, and these vessels can leak, bleed, or distort the retina. Treatment depends on the severity of diabetic damage and may include observation, laser, injection of medication, or surgery.
All diabetics should be screened at least annually. This is essential because significant damage can occur without noticeable symptoms, and is irreversible.
Diabetic Retinopathy Prevention
The risk of diabetic retinopathy can be dramatically reduced by maintaining glucose levels as directed by the doctor monitoring your diabetes. In addition, proper diet, exercise, blood pressure control, and avoiding smoking are very important. If diabetic retinopathy develops, early detection allows for a better treatment outcome. If you have diabetes, be sure to get your eyes checked with a dilated eye exam every year.
Not all diabetic eye findings require treatment, but all diabetics need to be monitored. For patients with diabetic retinopathy that is significant enough to require intervention, prompt treatment by a retinal specialist is needed. We work closely with retinal colleagues in the area to have patients seen by a subspecialist promptly should this be indicated.
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