Diabetes affects more than 23.6 million people in the United States alone – meaning that 7.8% of the population has the disease. Of these individuals, between 40 to 45 percent have some degree of Diabetic Retinopathy, the most common progressive eye disease resulting from long-term diabetes. Diabetic Retinopathy, which damages to the blood vessels in the eye, is also the leading cause of blindness in American adults.
It is extremely important for those with diabetes to not only seek regular medical care, but also regular eye exams (at least once a year), as well. If caught early enough, Diabetic Retinopathy is very treatable. However, if you wait until you experience symptoms of the disease, it may be too late to reverse the damage, though worsening of Diabetic Retinopathy may be slowed with treatment even in advanced stages of the disease.
Symptoms may include:
- Blurred vision
- Shadows or loss of areas of vision
- Difficulty seeing at nighttime
In the early stages of Diabetic Retinopathy, no symptoms occur, making the disease almost impossible to diagnose without the help of a professional. This is why regular eye exams are so important.
There are two types (stages) of the disease:
Non-proliferative (the first stage): Enlarged blood vessels and fluid/blood leaking into the retina cause problems with eyesight.
Proliferative (advanced): New blood vessels form in the eye and hemorrhage, causing scarring on the retina and other parts of the eye. This results in many problems with sight and can lead to complete vision loss.
While new treatment options are in development as scientists work toward a better understanding of this disease, regular eye exams and early detection remain your best options for fighting Diabetic Retinopathy.
If you have any questions, contact Anne Arundel Eye Center by calling 410-224-2010 or click here today!