What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?
November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month. This exists because diabetic eye diseases affect a large number of people with diabetes.
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that affects the retina of your eye. Your retina makes up the lining of the back of each of your eyes.
It handles sensing light and communicating with your brain about what you are seeing. The retina also plays an important role in how you sense depth perception.
Diabetes is a condition that occurs when your blood sugar is higher than normal. High blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in the back of your eye.
In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, these damaged blood vessels can leak into your retina. This causes your vision to become splotchy.
These splotches are blood leaking from the blood vessels. This is called nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy.
As the disease progresses, these blood vessels will close off. New ones will grow in their place.
The new blood vessels will grow on the surface of your retina. These new blood vessels can lead to severe vision problems. This stage of the disease is called proliferative diabetic retinopathy.
Who is at Risk of Diabetic Retinopathy?
Anyone who has diabetes is at risk of diabetic retinopathy. It affects people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Uncontrolled blood sugar can put you more at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
The following symptoms can occur in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. These symptoms will worsen over time as the disease develops into the proliferative stages.
Diabetic retinopathy normally affects both eyes. You will likely experience one or more of these symptoms in both of your eyes:
- Splotchy spots or dark strings floating in your vision that are also known as “floaters”
- Blurry vision
- Fluctuating vision that shifts in and out of focus or sharpness
- Inability to distinguish colors
- Dark or blank areas in your vision where you see nothing at all
- Vision loss
Ways to Prevent Diabetic Retinopathy
If you have diabetes, there’s no guarantee you’ll never develop diabetic retinopathy. But you’re less likely to develop it early on if you lead a healthy lifestyle.
This includes eating a healthy diet, exercising on a regular basis, and keeping your blood sugar under control.
You’ll want to eat a diet that is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and omega 3 fatty acids. This is a good way to keep your eyes healthy. Eat more nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, and oily fish like tuna.
Limiting your intake of red meat and alcohol can also protect your eyes from diseases. If you smoke, do your best to quit.
Cigarettes have been shown to cause eye diseases. Smoking and diabetes combined can increase your risk of diabetic retinopathy.
Daily exercise can also help boost the health of your eyes. You don’t need to exercise heavily. A brisk walk for thirty minutes every day, coupled with a proper diet is enough to keep your eyes healthy.
It is important that you get regular eye exams if you have diabetes. Schedule one today with Pinke Eye Center in Shelton, CT!