Diabetic retinopathy is progressive damage to the eye's retina caused by long-term diabetes. It can cause blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy results from damage to blood vessels of the retina. It is classified as non-proliferative or proliferative. Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy is the early stage of the disease and is less severe. The existing blood vessels in the eye leak fluid into the retina, which can cause blurred vision. Proliferative retinopathy is the more advanced form of the disease, and more severe. New blood vessels grow within the eye. These new vessels are fragile and can bleed, which may cause severe permanent vision loss.
Incidence and Risk Factors
Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in working-age Americans. People with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are at risk for this condition.
The likelihood and severity of retinopathy increase the longer you have diabetes, and is likely to occur earlier and be more severe if your diabetes is poorly controlled. Almost everyone who has had diabetes for more than 30 years will show signs of diabetic retinopathy.
One of the first symptoms of diabetic retinopathy is poor night vision. Other symptoms include floaters (spots in front of one's eyes), blurred vision, and blindness. However, diabetic retinopathy can have no symptoms initally. This is why everyone with diabetes should have regular eye exams.
Signs and tests
The best possible control of your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol is the number one priority. Your eye doctor may also recommend laser treatment, intravitreal steroid, anti-VEGF therapy, or vitrectomy surgery.
American Diabetes Association www.diabetes.org
The National Institute of Health www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001212.htm
The National Eye Institute http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/diabetic/retinopathy.asp
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Fax: (612) 871-0195