About Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy refers to the four stages of damage to the retinal blood vessels of individuals with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. It is the most common cause of vision loss and blindness in diabetics and is one of the top causes of blindness in adults aged 18 – 65. The increased blood glucose levels in diabetic patients can lead to the blockage, swelling, and leaking of their retinal blood vessels, which can eventually cause blindness if left untreated. This condition develops gradually over time, and the early stages do not always have any symptoms. Therefore, it is especially important for patients with diabetes to have comprehensive eye exams at least once a year.
At Koch Eye Associates, our amazing team of ophthalmologists is experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of diabetic retinopathy in all its stages. If you are diabetic, we encourage you to schedule an evaluation of your eye health at one of our Rhode Island facilities. We offer cutting-edge diagnostics at our locations in Providence, Warwick, North Kingstown, Johnston, Woonsocket, and Wakefield, RI.
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In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, patients may not notice any symptoms. However, as the condition progresses, the symptoms are very similar to those of retinal tears and detachment, including:
- The sudden appearance of flashes and/or floaters
- A decrease in the ability to distinguish color
- A decrease in vision sharpness
- General vision loss
- Vision distortion or blurriness
Diabetic retinopathy is the result of both chronically high blood sugar and blood sugar spikes in patients with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with diabetes, it is extremely important to monitor and manage your blood sugar levels and follow the advice of your primary physician. High blood sugar directly affects the retinal blood vessels, causing them to become thicker, blocked, or swollen and eventually causing them to bleed or leak fluid. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can also lead to macular edema (swelling of the macula) and macular ischemia (blood not reaching the macula). For diabetic patients especially, it is extremely important to monitor your eye health with regular comprehensive evaluations at Koch Eye Associates in order to detect and treat any issues as early as possible.
Koch Eye Associates is proud to be able to offer several different treatment methods for diabetic retinopathy, depending on the stage of the condition. To reduce inflammation, we can provide corticosteroid injections or implants. Treatments for leaking or damaged blood vessels include cauterizing laser procedures that can seal them up and prevent further damage. For patients in the advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy, anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) medications are available to prevent abnormal blood vessels from developing.
Most of the time, the early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy means that its symptoms can be reversed. However, if left untreated, the symptoms and vision loss can become permanent. The most effective way to prevent or slow the condition is to monitor your blood sugar and control your diabetes.
Treat Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy is a concern for essentially anyone diagnosed with diabetes. Controlling your blood sugar and having regular comprehensive eye exams are the two most important factors in preventing permanent damage and vision loss. At Koch Eye Associates, our highly trained ophthalmologists are experienced in the early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy. We can help you keep ahead of the condition with frequent evaluations at one of our Rhode Island facilities.