Diabetic retinopathy is an ocular manifestation of diabetes, a systemic disease, which affects up to 80 percent of all patients who have had diabetes for 10 years or more. The longer a person has diabetes, the higher his or her chances are of developing diabetic retinopathy.
Despite these intimidating statistics, research indicates that at least 90 percent of new cases could be reduced. Education on diabetic eye disease and retinopathy is especially important because it is often preventable or treatable. Unfortunately, this means it can go unnoticed in the early stages. As the disease progresses, permanent vision loss is a real possibility if the patient does not receive treatment.
There are multiple forms of diabetic retinopathy, and only your doctor can determine your particular form. With one form, blood vessels may swell and leak fluid. In another, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina.
Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy
In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, many do not notice a change to their vision because there are little to no symptoms. If an eye doctor does not catch diabetic retinopathy early, one could sustain mild blurriness at near or far distances, as well as floaters. In severe cases, a sudden loss of vision may occur.
Unfortunately, diabetic retinopathy can result in permanent damage that cannot be reversed. However, if caught in time, prescribed treatments may slow development and prevent vision loss.
Concerned about the onset of diabetic retinopathy? Please call us at 415-444-0300 to schedule a preventative eye examination today with our doctors.
Learn more about this type of diabetic eye disease by watching our video.
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
Changes in the blood vessels in the retina can be seen in patients with hypertension. In undiagnosed or uncontrolled cases of hypertension, these small blood vessels may become narrowed, and on occasion occluded, resulting in loss of vision. Unlike diabetes, this symptom would be more likely to occur in one eye. Laser or other medical treatment of the affected eye may be employed depending on the location of the occlusion. The best defense against Hypertensive Eye Disease is close medical control of blood pressure as coordinated by your primary care physician.
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye, causing vision to become blurry. Cataracts develop at an earlier age in people with diabetes, and can occur in one or both eyes. The clouding usually occurs slowly, but can happen quickly, especially after trauma to the eye. While cataracts are not painful, they do cause many symptoms such as blurry vision, decreased details, glare while driving or reading, dull colors, frequent changes in your glasses prescription, and double vision in one eye. If you notice any of the above symptoms, please contact our office immediately.
Glaucoma begins when pressure builds up in the eye, causing damage to the optic nerve, which will ultimately lead to loss of vision. People with diabetes or heart disease are more likely to develop glaucoma than other adults. Early diagnosis of Glaucoma can prevent the potential blindness it can cause if left untreated. In the early stages, glaucoma is a symptomless disease, which accentuates the importance of periodic eye examinations that include a glaucoma screening, particularly after the age of 40. Please contact our office today to schedule your annual eye exam.
Dr. Najafi-Tagol recommends the following methods to prevent eye problems:
- For Diabetics, Keep your blood sugar (glucose) level in check. Paying close attention to your diet, exercise, and measuring your levels daily will help. It is recommended by the American Diabetes Association that all Diabetics have an annual eye examination.
- Keep your blood pressure under control. Elevated blood pressure can lead to eye problems. Among other things, checking your blood pressure regularly, exercise and avoiding salty foods can help keep your blood pressure in check.
- Stop Smoking. Among other harmful side-effects, the risk of developing eye diseases, such as Macular Degeneration, is increased by smoking.
- Schedule an annual eye exam. Many serious eye conditions may go unnoticed for years unless detected through a comprehensive eye examination.
- Contact Dr. Najafi-Tagol if you experience the following conditions:
- blurry or double vision
- change in peripheral (side) vision
- trouble reading or driving at night or daytime
- pain in one or both eyes
- eye pressure
- seeing floaters or spots in your vision
- redness in eyes
Eye Institute of Marin emphasizes the use of state-of-the-art technology to provide the most accurate and complete findings for early diagnosis and treatment of these and other eye conditions with the goal of preventing vision loss and blindness.