The high blood sugar levels associated with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can also affect your vision. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar causes swelling or leaking of the blood vessels in the retina. These blood vessels may also close and completely inhibit blood from flowing. In rare cases, there may be an abnormal growth of new blood vessels on the retina. All instances of diabetic retinopathy have the potential to damage your vision and lead to blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy typically doesn’t yield symptoms during its early stages. Signs tend to arise as the condition progresses. Symptoms you should look out for include:
If you have diabetes, it’s smart to schedule regular eye exams to detect diabetic retinopathy in its early stages, even if you aren’t experiencing any vision problems.
There are two types of diabetic retinopathy that have some shared and some different causes. In general, high blood sugar levels cut off the blood supply in the retina, and the eye attempts to grow new blood vessels to accommodate for the restriction. These new blood vessels, however, don’t develop properly and often cause leakage.
Early diabetic retinopathy is referred to as nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy. The blood vessels in the retina become increasingly blocked, and tiny bulges of the smaller vessels leak fluid and blood into the retina.
More advanced and severe stages of diabetic retinopathy are known as proliferative diabetic retinopathy.
During those stages, the damaged blood vessels close off completely and lead to the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels in the retina. This growth may even cause the retina to detach from the back of your eye. The inhibited flow of fluid can also lead to glaucoma.
In addition to having diabetes, other risk factors for developing diabetic retinopathy include:
You should schedule an eye exam if you have any of these risk factors. Dr. Mary Espy can diagnose diabetic retinopathy and provide the necessary measures to keep it from advancing.
Feel free to email us regarding any scheduling or general questions!