Currently, between 40-45% of Americans with diabetes have some varying degree of Diabetic Retinopathy, the most common diabetic eye disease and the leading cause of blindness in American adults. Specifically, Diabetic Retinopathy is damage to the blood vessels in the eye.
Types (Stages) of Diabetic Retinopathy
Non-proliferative: This is the first stage of Diabetic Retinopathy. It involves the enlargement of blood vessels with fluid/blood leaking into the retina, causing problems with one’s vision.
Proliferative: This is the more advanced type of Diabetic Retinopathy. It involves the forming of new blood vessels in the eye. These blood vessels then hemorrhage, causing scarring on the retina and other parts of the eye. This can result in several problems, including complete vision loss.
Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
• Blurred vision/ blurry vision
• Shadows or loss of areas of vision
• Difficulty seeing at nighttime
By the time these symptoms appear, it may be too late to reverse the damage. This is why it is important for all those with diabetes to have professional eye exams (at least once a year) in addition to regular medical care and checkups with their primary care physicians.
Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy
The best form of treatment for diabetic retinopathy is prevention. However, there are still some very effective ways to treat diabetic eye diseases, including:
• Focal Laser Treatment: Also known as photocoagulation, this laser treatment can slow or even stop blood and fluid from leaking in the eye.
• Scatter Laser Treatment: Also known as panretinal photocoagulation, this laser treatment is used to shrink any abnormal blood vessels in the eye.
• Vitrectomy: This surgical treatment is used to remove blood from the middle of the eye (vitreous) as well as any scar tissue that may be pulling on the retina.
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 about what you have just read or if you would like to learn more about Diabetic Retinopathy, please contact board certified ophthalmologist Samuel Boles and the eye care specialists at Anne Arundel Eye Center by calling 410-224-2010 or click here to visit AnneArundelEyeCenter.com today!
Located in Annapolis, Maryland, the Anne Arundel Eye Center offers comprehensive specialized ophthalmic exams as well as diagnostic pre and post-surgical eye care. Specializing in glaucoma and cataracts, Dr. Boles has helped restore and preserve thousands of patients’ vision.
For more eye care advice and information, please take a look at our previous blog posts.