Almost one-quarter of people with diabetes will develop diabetic retinopathy, a complication leading to blindness. However, early diagnosis and treatment from Dr. Candria Krywko and our optometry team in Scottsdale, AZ, can minimize the risk of vision loss. Here's what you need to know about diabetic retinopathy and how to protect your eyesight.
What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that damages the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can lead to blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy typically develops in two stages:
1. Pre-proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy
In this early stage, the tiny blood vessels in the retina begin to leak fluid or even close off completely. This can cause areas of the retina to swell or form cloudy patches.
2. Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy
In this more advanced stage, new blood vessels begin to grow on the retina's surface. Unfortunately, these new blood vessels are fragile and can easily bleed, causing vision loss.
Who Is at Risk for Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in 20-74 years old adults. Anyone with diabetes is at risk, but the longer you have diabetes, the greater your risk. In fact, after 20 years of diabetes, nearly all patients with type 1 diabetes and more than 60% of patients with type 2 diabetes will develop some degree of diabetic retinopathy.
How Is Diabetic Retinopathy Diagnosed?
Our optometrists can detect early signs of diabetic retinopathy during a comprehensive dilated eye exam, including special drops to widen the pupil for a better view of the retina. During the exam, our optometrists will look for any of the following signs:
- Swelling of the retina
- Leakage of fluid from the blood vessels in the retina
- Formation of new blood vessels on the retina's surface
- Changes in the nerve tissue of the retina
How is Diabetic Retinopathy Treated?
In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, treatments are focused on slowing the progression of the disease. Laser surgery can help to seal leaking blood vessels and shrink abnormal new blood vessels.
In the later stages of proliferative diabetic retinopathy, laser surgery is used to destroy the abnormal new blood vessels and prevent them from bleeding. This can help to improve your vision. In some cases, you may need a vitrectomy to remove blood from the eye that has accumulated due to bleeding from new blood vessels.
Visit Us for Quality Eye Care in Scottsdale, AZ
If you have diabetes, it's important to have regular comprehensive eye exams to detect and treat any early signs of diabetic retinopathy. Dr. Candria Krywko and our Scottsdale optometry team offer comprehensive eye exams and specialize in diagnosing and treating diabetic retinopathy. Call us today at (480) 900-2020 to schedule an appointment.