Diabetic Retinopathy and Vitreoretinal Diseases
What eye problems are often associated with diabetes?
Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of eye problems that people with diabetes may face. All can cause severe vision loss or even blindness. Fortunately, diabetic eye disease often can be treated before vision loss occurs. All people with diabetes should have a dilated eye exam at least once a year.
Diabetic eye diseases include:
What is diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. In some people with diabetic retinopathy, retinal blood vessels may swell and leak fluid while, in others, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. These changes may result in vision loss or blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy cannot be completely avoided, but the risk can be greatly reduced. Better control of blood sugar slows the onset and progression of retinopathy and lessens the need for laser surgery for severe retinopathy.
What are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?
There may be no symptoms or pain in the early stages of the diabetic retinopathy, and vision may not change until the disease progresses.
A condition called macular edema may occur when the macula, a part of the retina, swells from the leaking fluid and causes blurred vision. When new vessels grow on the surface of the retina, they can bleed (hemorrhage) into the eye, which may decrease vision.
Who is at risk for diabetic retinopathy?Anyone with diabetes is at risk for diabetic retinopathy. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely it becomes that he or she will develop diabetic retinopathy.
Can diabetic retinopathy be prevented?Although diabetic retinopathy cannot be prevented, the risk of developing it can be reduced by:
How is diabetic retinopathy diagnosed?
In addition to a complete medical history and eye examination, your eye care professional may perform the following tests to diagnose diabetic retinopathy:
Specific treatment will be determined by your doctor(s) based on: