Diabetic Retinopathy

Proactive testing is key to prevention and treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy.
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The number one reason for blindness in the USA is Diabetic retinopathy. Not all diabetics will develop this disease, but they are all at a higher risk for developing diabetic retinopathy. A primary symptom of diabetic retinopathy - significant vision loss - can be avoided if detected and treated early. For this reason, all diabetics should get a dilated eye exam every year. Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include: specks, spots or floaters in your vision; central vision may become blurred or go in and out of focus; streaks or blockage of vision if a large hemorrhage occurs inside the eye; while others may notice difficulty seeing at night.


High blood sugar or uncontrolled diabetes is the main reason for the development of diabetic retinopathy. The blood sugar control is directly related to the severity of diabetic retinopathy. There is a rich supply of blood vessels at the back of the eye: the retina which is a very light sensitive layer. These blood vessels become weak as the blood sugar level is increased. Each blood vessel contains blood and fluid. Due to weakness caused by diabetes, the blood and fluid inside the blood vessels leak out into the retina. And the retina swells. This swelled retina causes a lack of nutrients and oxygen which results as vision loss and possibly blindness.


There is no specific one-size fits all treatment for diabetic retinopathy, instead early detection is key. While there are no "early" symptoms that may make you think to get tested, the only way to catch it is through regular test screenings. It is for this reason ICare doctors of Optometry recommends keeping a routine of regular eye exams for all diabetic patients to diagnose diabetic retinopathy early. During an eye exam, an optometrist uses a special eye drop to dilate the pupils. This eye drop is specially designed to enlarge the pupils so that the entire retina, along with the optic nerve, macula and blood vessels, can be visually inspected.

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