Diabetes is a term that almost every patient knows of. More than 100 million American adults are diabetic or prediabetic. What many Americans do not know is that diabetes is a leading cause of blindness in American adults.
Diabetes is a condition in which high blood sugars (also known as blood glucose) can lead to damage of the lining of the small blood vessels in the body. One of these areas where damage occurs is within the retina’s small blood vessels. This damage leads to bleeding, exudation, and swelling of the retina. This in turn leads to low oxygen levels within that tissue, which then leads to abnormal blood vessel growth.
This is the essence of diabetic retinopathy and there are 4 different types of diabetic retinopathy: mild non-proliferative, moderate non-proliferative, severe non-proliferative, and proliferative. 40-45% of patients diagnosed with diabetes have some form of retinopathy. What is even more concerning is that the initial signs may be completely asymptomatic. However, the damage from diabetic retinopathy can range from vision distortion to severe and permanent vision loss.
The good news is that treatment can stop and sometimes reverse vision loss. Treatment options have advanced and now include lasers and new and promising medications. With Hemoglobin A1C and blood sugar control as well as good diet and exercise, these treatment options can effectively treat diabetic retinopathy. One of the most important things patients can do is to come in for regular diabetic exams which include a full dilated examination with fundus observation. These full exams can also monitor for cataract and glaucoma. Diabetic patients should have these exams at least yearly.
Come in today for your diabetic examination!