Diabetic Retinopathy

Shah Eye Center wants you to understand the causes and effects of Diabetic Retinopathy. It is progressive damage to the eye’s retina caused by long-term diabetes. It can cause blindness.

Diabetic Retinopathy results from damage to blood vessels of the retina. It is classified as non-proliferative or proliferative. Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy is the early stage of the disease and is less severe. The existing blood vessels in the eye leak fluid into the retina, which can cause blurred vision. Proliferative Retinopathy is the more advanced form of the disease, and more severe. New blood vessels grow within the eye. These new vessels are fragile and can bleed, which may cause severe permanent vision loss.

Diabetic Retinopathy Incidence and Risk Factors

Diabetic Retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in working-age Americans. People with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are at risk for this condition.

The likelihood and severity of Retinopathy increase the longer you have Diabetes. If your diabetes is poorly controlled, Retinopathy is likely to occur earlier and be more severe. Almost everyone who has had Diabetes for more than 30 years will show signs of Diabetic Retinopathy.

Diabetic Retinopathy Symptoms

One of the first symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy is poor night vision. Other symptoms include floaters (spots in front of one’s eyes), blurred vision, and blindness. However, Diabetic Retinopathy may have no symptoms initially. Therefore, everyone with diabetes should have regular eye exams.

Signs and tests for Diabetic Retinopathy

In nearly all cases, Diabetic Retinopathy can be diagnosed with an eye exam. Fluorescein angiography, optical coherence tomography, and ultrasound, may provide additional information.

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy

The best possible control of your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol is the number one priority. Your Shah Eye Center doctor may also recommend laser treatment, intravitreal steroid, anti-VEGF therapy or vitrectomy surgery. Your Shah Eye Center doctor will determine your course of treatment.

Stay informed. For more information visit:

American Diabetes Association www.diabetes.org

The National Institute of Health: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001212.htm

The National Eye Institute: http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/diabetic/retinopathy.asp