Effective Treatment Options for Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetes can affect your vision, but with some proactive care, you can prevent negative changes in your eyesight altogether.
Among its other complications, diabetes can also lead to retinopathy, an eye disease that can result in permanent damage to the retina. Because diabetic retinopathy has few significant symptoms in its early stages, many patients are unaware that they have it. If you have diabetes, we’ll help you identify the earliest symptoms of diabetic retinopathy so that you can seek appropriate treatment to effectively halt its progression.
Diabetic Retinopathy Explained
Retinopathy is a disease that weakens the blood vessels in the retina, the structure in the eye that’s responsible for translating and transmitting visual stimuli to the brain. It can occur in anyone, but it’s most common in people with diabetes or those with metabolic or vascular conditions. Aside from diabetes, the greatest risk factors include old age, a sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, and obesity.
Diabetic retinopathy is directly caused by high blood sugar levels, which can cause the retinal blood vessels to swell and leak. Early stages of diabetic retinopathy are largely asymptomatic. But as the condition progresses, it can lead to blurred vision, floaters, and sudden loss of vision. If left untreated, it can later result in irreversible vision loss or blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy can have a significant effect on your vision. But if it’s diagnosed in its early stages, it can be effectively treated with conservative or minimally invasive measures. Most eye care providers today rely on an imaging technology called optical coherence tomography to photograph the retina during eye exams, enabling them to detect any irregularities before they worsen.
The simplest preventative measures for diabetic retinopathy are the same lifestyle adjustments that anyone with diabetes should make. Actively monitoring your blood sugar, remaining at a healthy weight, maintaining a balanced diet, and regularly exercising can all dramatically reduce your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
In other cases, patients may benefit more from minimally invasive courses of treatment. Some forms of laser eye surgery, for example, can shrink leaking blood vessels and prevent new vessels from growing, while a vitrectomy can drain blood-tainted vitreous gel in the eye and replace it with saline solution. Other patients may find relief from intravitreal injections, which limits the growth of blood vessels in the eye and prevents fluid from accumulating in it.
People with diabetes should get regular eye exams to ensure that their vision remains sharp. If you’re diabetic and have recently noticed changes in your vision – or simply want to practice some preventative care – the eye care specialists at ICON Eyecare are here to help. Contact us today at 720-524-1001 or schedule a consultation with us online to explore possible treatments.