Diabetes is a treatable chronic condition that requires ongoing monitoring and management. The same can be said for your eye health when you have this condition. Early detection and treatment can make all the difference when it comes to protecting your vision. Read on as a Saginaw, TX optometrist discusses diabetic retinopathy and the importance of spotting early warning signs.
Diabetes and Your Eyes
Diabetes causes your blood sugar levels to run high, which can wreak havoc on the body’s overall health. High sugar levels not only damage the body’s cells but also the structures that make up the eye.
Blockages can develop in the tiny blood vessels that feed the retina. The tissues that surround the eye can also become inflamed, which obstructs blood flow to your retina. Since the retina is the part of the eye that converts incoming light into the electrical signals your brain uses to create images, the effects of diabetes can compromise your vision over time.
What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy develops as changes in the blood vessels and tissues surrounding the retina start to impair normal retinal functioning. This happens in two stages:
- Nonproliferative retinopathy – This is the early stage where blood vessels start to swell and leak, which may cause mild vision loss.
- Proliferative retinopathy – This is the advanced stage in which new blood vessels grow on the retina’s surface. If these new blood vessels break or bleed into the watery gel that fills the eye, severe vision loss may occur.
Early Warning Signs of Diabetic Retinopathy
Signs of diabetic retinopathy tend to appear gradually. This means early warning signs can be subtle and hard to notice. For these reasons, it’s important to get your eyes checked out by an optometrist so early warning signs can be detected and treated.
Here are the most common early warning signs of diabetic retinopathy:
- Blurry vision
- Wavy vision
- Partial or total color blindness
- Floaters, which are spots or dark strings
- Changes in vision clarity
- Dark areas in your visual field
- Diminished night vision
- Flashing lights
Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment
Identifying and treating diabetic retinopathy early on can go a long way toward protecting and preserving your vision. The first step is to have a comprehensive eye exam done, which will allow the optometrist to spot any swelling or damage to blood vessels in the back of your eyes. From there, the optometrist puts together a treatment plan that addresses any current symptoms you’re experiencing and lists interventions for managing the effects of diabetes on your vision.
If you have more questions or wish to schedule an appointment for an eye exam, please don’t hesitate to call our Saginaw, TX optometry office today.