Diabetes related retinopathy

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Overview

Diabetes-related retinopathy is an eye condition that weakens the blood vessels in your retina.

There are two types of diabetes-related retinopathy:

Nonproliferative diabetes-related retinopathy (NPDR): In this early disease stage, people have blood vessels which leak in the retina. This manifests with either fluid, hemorrhage, or lipid seen in the retina. Eventually these blood vessels close causing ischemia or poor blood flow.

Proliferative diabetes-related retinopathy (PDR): When the disease progresses, abnormal blood vessels grow in response to the ischemia. These abnormal vessels can leak blood into the gel-like substance (vitreous) that fills your eye and cause tractional changes to the surface of the retina detaching it and resulting in severe vision loss in late stages.

Symptoms

In the early stages, most people experience no signs of diabetes-related retinopathy. You may not experience vision changes until the condition is severe. For some people, symptoms come and go.

Symptoms of diabetes-related retinopathy include:

Blurred or distorted vision.

New color blindness or seeing colors as faded.

Poor night vision (night blindness).

Small dark spots (eye floaters) or streaks in your vision.

Trouble reading or seeing faraway objects.

Spots or dark strings floating in your vision (floaters)

Blurred vision.

Fluctuating vision.

Dark or empty areas in your vision.

Vision loss.

Causes

Diabetic retinopathy is caused by high blood sugar due to diabetes. Over time, having too much sugar in your blood can damage your retina — the part of your eye that detects light and sends signals to your brain through a nerve in the back of your eye (optic nerve).

Diabetes can cause multiple eye diseases including cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetes-related retinopathy which is defined as damage to the retinal vessels of the eye. These damage vessels can lead to poor blood flow (ischemia), inflammation, and ultimately legal blindness if not treated.

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes, caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the back of the eye (retina). It can cause blindness if left undiagnosed and untreated.


Risk factors

Risk factors

Having diabetes for a long time.

Poor control of your blood sugar level.

High blood pressure.

High cholesterol.

Pregnancy.

Tobacco use.

Being Black, Hispanic or Native American.

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Complications

Complications can lead to serious vision problems:

Vitreous hemorrhage. The new blood vessels may bleed into the clear, jellylike substance that fills the center of your eye. ...

Retinal detachment. ...

Glaucoma. ...

Blindness.

Prevention

You can't always prevent diabetic retinopathy. However, regular eye exams, good control of your blood sugar and blood pressure, and early intervention for vision problems can help prevent severe vision loss.

If you have diabetes, reduce your risk of getting diabetic retinopathy by doing the following:

Manage your diabetes. Make healthy eating and physical activity part of your daily routine. Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as walking, each week. Take oral diabetes medications or insulin as directed.

Monitor your blood sugar level. You might need to check and record your blood sugar level several times a day — or more frequently if you're ill or under stress. Ask your doctor how often you need to test your blood sugar.

Ask your doctor about a glycosylated hemoglobin test. The glycosylated hemoglobin test, or hemoglobin A1C test, reflects your average blood sugar level for the two- to three-month period before the test. For most people with diabetes, the A1C goal is to be under 7%.

Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control. Eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and losing excess weight can help. Sometimes medication is needed, too.

If you smoke or use other types of tobacco, ask your doctor to help you quit. Smoking increases your risk of various diabetes complications, including diabetic retinopathy.

Pay attention to vision changes. Contact your eye doctor right away if your vision suddenly changes or becomes blurry, spotty or hazy.