Tag Archives: diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy Awareness

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!

QUIZ: What’s Your Eye Health IQ?

How much do you know about ocular health? Let’s find out. Take a look at the statements below – are they true or false? Try to give the quiz a shot before looking at the answers below. You can write “T or F” for each number on a piece of paper and check your answers at the end. No scrolling down!

  1. Getting a regular physical at the doctor’s office can usually catch any eye problems.
  2. As long as you have carrots when you think about it, you’re doing about all you can diet-wise to help your vision.
  3. Most people don’t go to the optometrist regularly because you need a referral.
  4. Most cases of infant blindness are caused by hereditary eye diseases.
  5. A signature type of retinopathy is a key feature of cardiovascular disease.
  6. Smoking is linked to several different types of eye disease.
  7. If you can see perfectly but just get irritated eyes from time to time, there is no need to visit an optometrist.
  8. Eyes can get sunburned so it is important to wear sunglasses that repel UVA and UVB rays.




Don’t peek!





Keep scrolling….






  1. FALSE. A full eye exam where your pupils are dilated by an eye care professional is the only way to ensure you have healthy eyes, or catch any potential eye problems. Many eye problems are not visible or obvious to an onlooker, so visiting your optometrist or ophthalmologist annually is the only way to detect a problem before it causes vision loss.
  2. FALSE. Contrary to popular belief, there are many other foods that also promote eye health aside from carrots. Some of those include: leafy greens like spinach, fatty fish for their omega-3’s, citrus and berries for their plentiful vitamin C. Also, try to include eggs in your diet regularly as they offer many health benefits and medical studies have linked them to slowing or helping prevent macular degeneration.
  3. FALSE. You do not need a referral to see an eye doctor, even though many people don’t realize this. Anyone can go to an optometrist, and there are online databases to help you find a professional near you.
  4. TRUE. Over 60% of infant blindness cases are due to genetic predispositions to eye disease. Many common adult eye diseases that cause blindness such as glaucoma and macular degeneration also have genetic links. It is important to know your family history of eye problems and let your eye care professional know of any problems your family has with their eyes.
  5. FALSE. A special type of retinopathy often goes hand in hand with diabetes, not cardiovascular disease. It is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States and strikes up to 80% of diabetics who have had the disease for longer than a couple decades. Diabetic retinopathy can be prevented with regular screenings.
  6. TRUE. According to the National Eye Institute, smoking is very detrimental to your vision (as it is to the rest of your body). It can contribute to macular degeneration, cataracts or even nerve damage to they eyes. So, if you’re a smoker who is concerned about your vision health, quit smoking today!
  7. FALSE. You could have allergies or an eye condition called dry eye, which causes very irritated eyes due to blockages in your meibomian glands that prevent lubrication from properly forming to coat the eyes. It can get worse with time, and can even be linked to bigger underlying problems such as autoimmune disease. An optometrist can give you eye drops to help treat either condition.
  8. TRUE. Your eyes most certainly can get sunburned, causing them to be red, dry, itchy and painful. It is important to avoid this unpleasant sun hazard with good quality sunglasses.

So how did you do? Hopefully 8/8! Hopefully you see how important it is not to neglect your peepers! Thanks for visiting DocChat!

Telemedicine – A Revolutionary Blindness Screening Tool?

Telemedicine can be useful for various types of screening and monitoring of diseases (for example Telestroke monitoring), but unfortunately both doctors and patients are slow-moving to embrace such a convenient answer to health issues that can be caught early and fixed, like diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease associated with diabetes that causes progressive damage to the retinas, often leading to total blindness if left undetected or untreated. Diabetic retinopathy affects up to 80% of diabetics who have had the disease for longer than a couple decades, however, with early detection and regular check-ups, medications and lifestyle changes, retinopathy can be slowed or even stopped. The problem is detecting it in the first place. Many people don’t get the opportunity to regularly (if ever) visit an eye doctor, and the problem is so gradual that some people don’t realize just how bad their eyes have gotten until it is too late to reverse damage.

A Potential Fix?

Recently in Engliand, the implementation of a nationwide telehealth program utilizing mobile blindness and retinopathy screening units has caught thousands of cases early enough to treat, effectively neutralizing diabetic retinopathy as England’s leading cause of blindness. Such a program in the United States could achieve similarly impressive results, if the American populous continues on to better embrace telemedicine.

Telemedicine and Retinopathy of Prematurity

While diabetes eye screening is just an idea so far in America, a relatively new telemedicine system has been actively preventing newborn blindness here, targeting and helping prevent the terrifying condition retinopathy of prematurity (RoP). Sadly, few are aware of the serious blindness risk faced by premature babies born under 2 pounds. They face this devastating type of retina destruction unless it is detected and treated within their first month of life. Thanks to telemedicine, necessary screening is becoming more available to help detect this vision problems of babies.

Last Look at Telemedicine for Eye Care

Telemedicine eye screening could be revolutionary when it comes to providing cost effective screenings to diabetic patients who can’t otherwise access eye care, rural patients, those without health insurance or those in nursing homes. Assistant professor of ophthalmology at Kellogg Eye Center, Dr. Maria Woodward says of telemedicine for eye screenings “Telemedicine has been shown to be a safe method to provide monitoring for diabetic eye care.” However, in a recent study only about 4% of people polled even heard about telemedicine – so there certainly needs to be more awareness to increase acceptance and demand so these services can become available to the general populace. So hopefully, we will begin to see more support and demand for a service similar to England’s which can revolutionize diabetic retinopathy just like it has started to do for RoP.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! We hope you’ll return again soon.