Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of vision loss in patients under the age of 60. However, if you visit Kirk Eye Center regularly for dilated vision exams and manage your blood sugar levels well, vision loss can often be prevented or delayed. If you don’t control your blood sugar and you skip your eye appointments, though, diabetic retinopathy can lead to blindness.
If you are diabetic and concerned about your vision quality, please contact Kirk Eye Center today at 708-397-8114 to schedule your appointment.
What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a disease in which the blood vessels in the eyes become damaged due to high blood sugar levels. There are two main forms of the disease:
- Background Diabetic Retinopathy: This is the early stage of the disease, in which the walls of your blood vessels become weakened, leading to leaks which in turn cause the retina to swell. At this stage, vision may still seem normal. An experienced ophthalmologist can tell through an eye exam if you have this condition, and let you know what steps you can take to slow its progression.
- Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy: This is the more advanced stage of the disease, in which blood vessels become completely blocked, leading to new blood vessels to form. These new blood vessels can leak into the vitreous and form scar tissue, which can lead to macular edema or retinal detachment.
Diabetic retinopathy, if left untreated, can also lead to glaucoma and cataracts. If you have diabetes, yearly eye checks are essential so that diabetic retinopathy can be caught as soon as possible. Although the risk of developing this disease is higher if your blood sugar is not controlled well, even diabetics who have good blood sugar control and lead healthy lifestyles still have some risk.
Who Is At Risk for Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy can affect people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Generally, the longer you have had diabetes and the more poorly controlled your blood sugar is, the higher your risk for developing this eye disease.
Other risk factors can include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
If you are at risk for diabetic retinopathy, see your eye doctor regularly and make an appointment as soon as possible if you notice any changes to your vision. Deteriorating vision as well as an increase in floaters can both be signs of diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic Retinopathy Treatments
In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, all that may be recommended is a lifestyle change and better blood sugar control. While you are making these changes, continue visiting your eye doctor for checkups and monitoring. Good blood sugar and blood pressure control are key to keeping your eye vessels as healthy as possible.
If your diabetic retinopathy becomes more severe, other treatment may be necessary. Here at Kirk Eye Center, we use the Pascal Pattern Photocoagulator, a state-of-the-art laser treatment that can seal off blood vessels and help prevent new ones from growing. Laser treatment has a high success rate, and can be performed quickly and safely.
Retinal laser treatments are highly effective, but may require multiple sessions for best results. Your eye doctor will let you know more about this treatment plan if it is determined to be best for you.
Schedule Your Diabetic Retinopathy Appointment
If you have diabetes and want to make sure your eyes stay healthy and your vision stays intact, please contact Kirk Eye Center today at 708-397-8114 to schedule your appointment. We serve patients in the greater Chicago area, including Gurnee and River Forest.