Diabetes & Diabetic Retinopathy
Unfortunately, a disease that is increasingly common and can trigger a number of debilitating responses throughout our system, including the retina, is diabetes. If you are in any stage of diabetes, it is an indication that your body's blood sugar is not regulated in a “safe” zone. Blood sugar levels that remain uncontrolled can damage the blood vessels in the retina. Damage to these vessels can cause vision loss and/or blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy is the most frequent cause of new blindness among adults aged 20–74 years. During the first twenty years of disease, nearly all patients with type 1 juvenile onset diabetes and 60% of patients with type 2 (usually adult onset) diabetes have retinopathy. If diagnosed in time, 90% of people with late-stage diabetic retinopathy can be saved from blindness.
Anyone with diabetes – both type 1 or type 2 – is at risk of developing this condition. However, the better you control your blood sugar levels, the lower your risk. South Jersey Eye Physicians encourages you to take prevention seriously by carefully controlling your blood sugar level and scheduling yearly eye exams.
There are two main types of diabetic retinopathy: non-proliferative and proliferative.
Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR):
This type of diabetic retinopathy is seen in about one in five diabetics at the time of diagnosis. The disease causes the retina to develop blood leaks and swelling from abnormal dilated diabetic retinal vascular lesions (microaneurysms). If it remains untreated, damage from the swelling is likely and will lead to vision loss. The onset of this can occur with or without symptoms. Some symptoms include blurred or distorted vision.
Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR):
This type of diabetic retinopathy is a less common and more advanced form of retinopathy; it is associated with significant loss of vision in many patients. Poor retinal circulation and a network of abnormal retinal blood vessels characterize PDR. These abnormal blood vessels bleed easily. Either bleeding inside the eye or resultant scar tissue with retinal detachment may cause loss of vision.
At South Jersey Eye Physicians, all our doctors are trained to check your eyes for signs of diabetic retinopathy. If suspicious changes are found, you will be referred to Dr. Colucciello for further evaluation and treatment. In order to fully evaluate your condition, you may need to have painless testing of the blood flow and/or imaging of the retina.
Our doctors will work with you, your internist/family practitioner/endocrinologist to communicate the problem to assist in systemic treatment; local eye treatment can often be performed at our office, using either laser technology or injections of drugs into the eye. If necessary, you may require surgery to treat bleeding or otherwise repair the retina to save and improve sight and the eye.
Diabetic retinopathy is a serious medical condition that requires comprehensive, specialized treatment by a trained eye care professional.
How to Get More Information
Early diagnosis can help you keep your vision longer than ever before. Please contact us today for more information. Request an appointment online or call 1-800-380-0111.