High blood sugar levels from diabetes can damage many areas of the body, especially the eyes. Diabetics are prone to getting many kinds of diabetic eye conditions, including diabetic retinopathy. This is why diabetics need to visit an eye doctor or optometrist every year. Dr. Eklund at Wellington Eye Care lists what you need to know about diabetic retinopathy. If you live in the Wellington or Fort Collins areas and have concerns about your eye health, contact our team today.
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is damage to the retina caused by high blood sugar. It can also be caused by high blood pressure, a condition that many diabetics have, particularly those with Type 2 diabetes. Eventually, the damage is not only done to the retina but the optic nerve as well.
Diabetic Retinopathy Can Cause Blindness
Once you become blind from diabetic retinopathy, you cannot get your vision back. This is an important reason to take your diabetes seriously.
Early Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
There are no early symptoms of diabetic retinopathy. Fortunately, an eye doctor or optometrist can detect the changes in your eyes created during the early stages of diabetic retinopathy through an eye exam.
Later Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
As diabetic retinopathy progresses, it begins to noticeably affect your vision. You will see:
- Dark spots, lines, or cobwebs called floaters, that move when you move your eyes
- Blurry vision
- Vision that comes and goes
- Black patches that will not go away
Eventually, you go completely blind, because the diabetic retinopathy deteriorates into glaucoma. The high blood sugar levels end up permanently damaging your optic nerve.
Risk Factors for Diabetic Retinopathy
Besides having diabetes, you are also at high risk of getting diabetic retinopathy if you are:
- Native American
- A smoker
- Have high cholesterol
- Have high blood pressure
A Note for Pregnant Women
Pregnant women with gestational diabetes can develop diabetic retinopathy. Women need to get a full eye exam right after they get their gestational diabetes diagnosis.
Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy
The best way to treat diabetic retinopathy is to treat your diabetes. Otherwise, your next course of action gets pretty drastic. You may need medication injected into your eyes. You may need eye surgery or laser eye surgery, which can be done in a doctor’s office or hospital.
Contact Wellington Eye Care
If you have diabetes, it is essential to get an eye exam at least once per year. If you live in the Wellington or Fort Collins areas, contact Wellington Eye Care to schedule an appointment with Dr. Eklund. Call our team today at (970) 568-7161 or reach us through our website by using our online contact form.