What is diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is the most common type of diabetic eye disease and the leading cause of blindness in American adults. Diabetes causes damage to the blood vessels of the retina, a thin and delicate tissue that is responsible for vision. In some people suffering from DR, blood vessels swell and leak fluid. In others, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina that can lead to bleeding and retinal detachment. A healthy retina is necessary for good vision. If you have diabetic retinopathy, at first you may not notice changes to your vision. Yet over time, the condition can worsen and cause vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes, but early detection and prompt treatment can minimize vision loss.
What can I do to protect my vision?
Annual Dilated Eye Exams
- Early detection and treatment can prevent vision loss.
- Diabetic retinopathy can progress without symptoms.
- A retina specialist can tell you if you have any stage of diabetic retinopathy or macular edema.
- If you are a diabetic, be sure to schedule a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year.
- Depending on the severity of your diabetic retinopathy, your doctor may suggest you have more frequent exams.
Blood Sugar Control
Clinical trials have shown that better blood sugar control:
- Slows the onset and progression of retinopathy.
- May reduce the need for sight-saving laser surgery.
- Has also reduced the occurrence of kidney and nerve disease.
Additionally, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol can reduce the risk of vision loss. You should routinely see your primary care provider to determine the best form of blood sugar control for you.
Read more about retina and vitreous eye care.
Dr. Jeffery Stephens and Dr. Niraj Shah are fellowship-trained retinal surgeons. They specializes in caring for problems of the vitreous cavity and retina, including premature retinopathy, diabetic retinopathy, detached retinas, and macular degeneration.