If you have diabetes, you know that it can impact the health of your skin, nerves, kidneys, and other parts of your body. Unfortunately, diabetes can also affect your vision because it puts you at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. This condition can cause mild vision problems and may eventually lead to blindness. According to the National Eye Institute, diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss among people who have diabetes and it is the number one cause of vision impairment and blindness in adults.
If you have diabetes, please schedule an eye examination with our experienced ophthalmologists at 732-349-5622. At Susskind & Almallah Eye Associates, we proudly serve patients in Toms River, Brick, Marlboro, Barnegat, and nearby areas of New Jersey.
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition in which high blood sugar causes damage to the blood vessels in the retina. This can lead to visual impairment and blindness, though you may not experience any symptoms initially.
There are two main stages of diabetic retinopathy:
- Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy. This early stage of the disease occurs when the blood cells in the back of the eye begin to swell. Various degrees of swelling are possible, ranging from mild to severe. This is the most common stage of the disease.
- Proliferative diabetic retinopathy. This advanced stage occurs when the eye starts to produce abnormal blood vessels. These new blood vessels are prone to leaking fluid into your eye which can distort your vision. Scar tissue can also develop during this stage, which may later shrink and cause retinal detachment. Retinal detachment can lead to permanent vision loss.
Your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy increases the longer you have been living with diabetes. This disease affects approximately 40-45% of Americans who have diabetes.
The Importance of Routine Eye Examinations
Routine eye examinations are important for everyone. These exams can detect refractive vision errors, changes to your prescription, and the presence of eye disorders. However, comprehensive dilated eye examinations are particularly crucial for diabetics.
Yearly eye examinations are recommended for individuals with diabetes to ensure optimal eye health and to catch early signs of diabetic retinopathy. If you are pregnant, our ophthalmologists may recommend more frequent examinations. Pregnancy may worsen diabetic retinopathy, so it is important to monitor the health of your eyes during this time.
Many people wait to visit our eye doctors until they experience blurry vision or vision loss. However, you can have diabetic retinopathy without experiencing any symptoms. Early detection through an eye examination can help prevent serious visual complications.
Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:
- Blurred vision
- Spots or floaters in your vision
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Dark or empty spots in your vision
- Vision loss
It is important to schedule an eye examination if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy may lead to blindness.
Managing and Treating Diabetic Retinopathy
The treatment for diabetic retinopathy varies based on the severity of the disease. In the early stages, regular eye examinations and good control of your blood pressure and blood sugar can help manage the progression of the disease.
There are several treatment options available if the condition becomes more severe:
- Our ophthalmologists may use injectable medication to decrease inflammation and the production of abnormal blood cells.
- Laser surgery may also be used to seal blood vessels to prevent them from leaking the fluids that impair your vision.
- Surgery may be needed to replace the gel-like fluid in the back of your eye, or to repair retinal detachment.
If you have diabetic retinopathy, our ophthalmologists will discuss all of your treatment options.
Schedule Your Comprehensive Eye Examination
Please schedule your eye examination with Susskind & Almallah Eye Associates at 732-349-5622. We have offices in Marlboro, Toms River, Brick, and Barnegat for the convenience of our New Jersey patients.