What You Need to Know About Diabetic Retinopathy
Protect your vision with the right diagnosis and treatment. If you have diabetes, it may put you at risk for certain eye conditions, including diabetic retinopathy. When you choose our eye doctors in Grand Junction, we’ll take a proactive approach to monitoring and safeguarding your vision. As with many other conditions, early detection can help limit the severity of this complex disease. At ICON Eyecare in Grand Junction, we’ll work tirelessly to diagnose and monitor your diabetic retinopathy.
What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?
First, it helps to know what you’re dealing with. Diabetic retinopathy impacts your retina. The condition damages blood vessels at the back of your eye. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for you to detect because the early progression of the disease often has no symptoms.
What Causes Diabetic Retinopathy?
If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you are at a much greater risk for diabetic retinopathy. Unpredictable blood sugar can further damage retinal blood vessels, but those who keep their blood sugar under control can also develop this condition.
The following risk factors may increase your likelihood of developing diabetic retinopathy:
- You have diabetes
- You’re pregnant
- You’re African American or Hispanic
- You have other conditions that exacerbate retinopathy
What Symptoms Indicate Diabetic Retinopathy?
As mentioned, early stages of the disease have few or no conditions. However, as the condition progresses, you may experience blurred vision, vision fluctuations, seeing spots and poor night vision. If you notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment with one of our experienced eye doctors in Grand Junction for proper diagnosis.
If you have diabetes, let your ophthalmologist know during your eye exam. We recommend including a dilated eye exam as part of your annual visit. This will allow the eye doctor to notice signs of diabetic retinopathy so that you can get the proper treatment. Additionally, if you have diabetes and plan to become pregnant, it’s important to get an eye exam before your pregnancy or as soon as you find out you’re pregnant.
What Are the 4 Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy?
If you do have diabetic retinopathy, it’s important to understand the various stages that you’ll go through as the disease progresses.
- Mild non-proliferative retinopathy: In the beginning, the retina may develop small spots of blood or other conditions which negatively affect the blood vessels in your retina. However, you may experience no symptoms.
- Moderate non-proliferative retinopathy: As the disease progresses, your retina weakens and leaks fluid and blood. The accumulation of fluid can cause the macula or central part of the retina to swell, interfering with clear vision. Additionally, the tiny blood vessels in the region may become blocked and cease functioning.
- Severe non-proliferative retinopathy: During this stage, the blockage of blood vessels has become more severe, and the retina is deprived of blood. This leads to more hemorrhages and leakage in the blood vessels.
- Proliferative retinopathy: New retinal blood vessels begin to grow, but they are weak and fragile, rupturing easily. This may lead to catastrophic vision loss or blindness.
How Is Diabetic Retinopathy Treated?
Treatment for diabetic retinopathy depends on many factors, including the severity of the disease. During the early stages, our eye doctors in Grand Junction can recommend strategies to manage your diabetes through exercise, diet, and other lifestyle changes. The actions you take could influence the progression of the disease. For advanced diabetic retinopathy, there are laser treatments that can seal leaky blood vessels to help prevent further advancement. Additionally, eye injections may be recommended to help with retinal swelling caused by leaky blood vessels.
In advanced cases, your ophthalmologist may recommend a procedure called a vitrectomy. During this procedure, an eye surgeon removes part of your gel-like eye fluid (vitreous). Silicone oil or gas replace your natural fluid to stabilize eye pressure.
Come to ICON Eyecare in Grand Junction for diagnosis and treatment options for diabetic retinopathy. We provide comprehensive family eye care, specializing in glaucoma treatment, cataract and LASIK surgery in Grand Junction.