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Diabetic Retinopathy Awareness

Written by Courteney

Posted on November 9, 2016 at 7:11 am

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common eye diseases that affect diabetics. It damages the tiny blood vessels of the retina (the back lining of the eye), causing partial or severe vision loss if left untreated. Diabetic retinopathy is usually asymptomatic until the disease has progressed so screening is of utmost importance to catch the disease early and improve prognosis. Let’s take a look at some more facts about diabetic retinopathy:

  • Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is the leading cause of blindness among diabetics, and a top cause of vision impairment among young-to-middle-aged Americans.
  • A study conducted by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that approximately 4.2 million American adults have diabetic retinopathy and 655,000 of them had severe vision impairments as a result.
  • There are 4 stages of DR: mild, moderate and severe non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (severe and permanent vision loss).
  • DR can cause blood vessels in the retina to bleed or leak, or it can cause abnormal vessels to replicate which may lead to scarring.
  • DR can also lead to another condition called diabetic macular edema (DME) which causes swelling in the macula area of the retina, worsening vision loss.
  • Anyone who is diabetic is at risk of developing DR. The risk escalates with age. Pregnancy may also fast-track diabetic retinopathy.
  • While there are usually no symptoms in the initial stage, symptoms of diabetic retinopathy may include: seeing ‘floating spots’, blurred vision, distorted vision or impaired color vision.
  • Prevention of diabetic vision loss includes: lead a healthy lifestyle, control sugars, maintain a healthy weight, quit smoking and get regular eye screening (early detection and treatment can reduce the risk of heavy vision loss by 95%).
  • Effective treatments include: laser or other types of surgery, certain medications like anti-inflammatories or corticosteroids, and injections.

That sums up our look at diabetic retinopathy, and remember, since there are no early signs it is of utmost importance to get regular yearly eye screenings to catch signs of diabetic eye disease early!  Check out our post on diabetic neuropathy next – thanks for visiting DocChat!

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