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Diabetic Retinopathy

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in American adults and the most common diabetic eye disease.  Diabetic retinopathy is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina and usually affects both eyes.

If you have diabetic retinopathy, you may not notice changes to your vision at first. But over time, retinopathy can get worse.  Without proper treatment, it can cause severe vision loss.

How Does Diabetes Cause Vision Loss?

Diabetic Retinopathy occurs when fragile, abnormal blood vessels grow and leak into the center of the eye, blurring vision. Proliferative retinopathy can develop without symptoms, and at an advanced stage, you are at high risk for vision loss. People with proliferative retinopathy can reduce their risk of blindness by 95% with timely treatment and appropriate follow-up care.

Macular edema occurs when fluid leaks into the center of the macula, the area where sharp, central vision occurs. The fluid causes the macula to swell, blurring vision. Macular edema can develop without symptoms at any stage of diabetic retinopathy.

Both proliferative retinopathy and macular edema can develop without noticeable changes to vision. The best way to prevent vision loss or blindness is through regular exams with our board-certified ophthalmologists at Florida Eye Institute in Vero Beach or Sebastian. 

A dilated retina exam can determine if you have evidence of macular edema or diabetic retinopathy. Whether or not you have symptoms, early detection and timely treatment is important to prevent vision loss.

Schedule with us today to preserve and protect your vision.

How Do You Treat Diabetic Eye Disease?

Although considered one disease, there are many types of diabetic retinopathy.

The two main categories of diabetic retinopathy:

  1. Nonproliferative: blood vessels leak and/or close
  2. Proliferative: new blood vessels grow or proliferate

The level of severity and the area of the retina involved determine the type of treatment for diabetic retinopathy.

Injectable medications used in the treatment of Macular Degeneration like Lucentis, Eylea, Avastin, or Kenalog have proved effective in managing the swelling and fluid leakage associated with diabetic eye disease.

Laser photocoagulation is also used to safely and reliably stabilize and improve vision. By focusing the laser onto diseased areas in the retina, swelling can be reduced, abnormal vessels destroyed, and weak vessels sealed.

Are You at Risk for Eye Disease?

All people with diabetes are at risk. The longer someone has lived with diabetes, the more likely they will develop diabetic retinopathy. Forty percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes already have some stage of diabetic retinopathy. 

What Can You Do To Protect Vision?

  1. Stop Smoking to prevent blood vessel damage.
  2. Eat a balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables.
  3. Exercise to increase healthy blood flow.
  4. Maintain appointments with health professionals.
  5. Monitor blood sugar for fluctuation.
  6. Schedule a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year.   
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