What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy Diabetic retinopathy occurs when someone’s high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina, causing them to swell and leak. Sometimes, the swelling can stop blood flow through the vessels or even cause new ones to grow on the retina. All these changes associated with diabetic retinopathy can impair your vision. In addition to diabetes, risk factors for diabetic retinopathy include obesity, inactivity, genetic predisposition, age, and high blood pressure.

Types of Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy may be classified into two types: non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR).

NPDR is the early stage of diabetic retinopathy, which occurs in one out of four patients who have had diabetes for five years. This form is characterized by the leaking of tiny blood vessels, causing the retina to swell. NPDR also causes the macula to swell, known medically as macular edema. This condition is the most common cause of vision loss among those with diabetes.

PDR is a more advanced stage of diabetic retinopathy, resulting from new blood vessels growing in the retina. This condition, known as neovascularization, results in new vessels bleeding into the vitreous. Slight bleeding might only cause you to see a few floaters, but more severe bleeding can block all vision. Furthermore, the new blood vessels can cause macular scarring, leading to a detached retina.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy often has no symptoms during its early stages but becomes more symptomatic as it progresses. These symptoms include various changes in vision, such as an increasing number of floaters. Blurry vision is also a common symptom of this condition, which can clear suddenly. Other types of vision loss associated with diabetic retinopathy include blank areas in your field of vision, poor night vision, and faded colors. With this condition, both eyes are usually affected.

Schedule Your Annual Eye Exam

If you have diabetes, you can effectively delay the onset of diabetic retinopathy by making healthy lifestyle choices. Among them, you should be sure to schedule annual eye exams to detect eye conditions before symptoms develop. Schedule your comprehensive eye exam in Westborough, MA, at Keamy Eye and Laser Centre by calling 508-836-8733 or submitting a contact form online.

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