If you have diabetes, you are more likely to experience other health conditions. High blood sugar damages blood vessels, even in the eye. 

If blood vessels are damaged in the eye, you may be diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy. This eye condition is dangerous to your sight and requires special attention. 

Keep reading to learn what you need to know if you have diabetic retinopathy!

How is Diabetic Retinopathy Diagnosed?

If you have diabetes, you are at a high risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Due to this, you should visit your eye doctor regularly. 

Although people with diabetes should be scheduling appointments annually at the least, your eye doctor will tell you how often you need to have your eyes checked. Your eye doctor can diagnose diabetic retinopathy during a comprehensive eye exam. 

The doctor will consider your medical history, including previous eye problems, and try to rule out other issues. Diabetic retinopathy causes damage to the blood vessels located in the retina at the back of the eye. 

Your eye doctor will use a special microscope called a slit lamp and a lens to look at your retina. Diabetic retinopathy will present apparent signs of changes in your retina.

If your eye doctor notices these signs, they will likely diagnose you with the eye condition. 

Diabetic Retinopathy Has Stages

There are two primary stages of diabetic retinopathy. The first stage is background diabetic retinopathy. 

During this stage, you may not even notice any vision changes. However, even if changes aren’t apparent to you, the eye condition in this stage is still dangerous to your vision. 

Leaking fluid from damaged blood vessels causes the retina to swell. If the fluid collects behind the retina’s center, it can cause macular edema. 

Macular edema can affect your central vision. Only a comprehensive eye exam can catch background retinopathy before it progresses.  

The advanced form of the disease can cause much more serious vision damage. It is proliferative diabetic retinopathy. 

During this stage, new blood vessels begin to grow. These new blood vessels develop hastily and poorly, leaking even more fluid into and around the retina. 

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy affects up to twenty percent of people with diabetes and can lead to permanent blindness if it is left untreated. 

Diabetic Retinopathy Can Be Treated  

Your eye doctor can provide a treatment plan for you in either stage of the condition. However, early detection is paramount to vision preservation. 

The more advanced a case of diabetic retinopathy is, the more difficult it is to treat. Early treatment is often as simple as getting your blood sugar under control.

Most people with diabetes can achieve this with a stricter diet and more exercise. Others may need to adjust their insulin intake. 

In some cases, eye doctors may use a laser treatment to seal off leaky blood vessels and discourage new ones from forming. Your eye doctor may also inject corticosteroids into your eye to reduce swelling. 

A vitrectomy is a surgical procedure where your eye doctor removes the gel substance that fills the eye. This will help prevent complications of diabetic retinopathy from occurring, like a retinal detachment.

Is it time to have your eyes checked? Schedule an appointment at Kovach Eye Institute in Elmhurst, IL to ensure your eyes stay healthy and your vision stays clear!