Diabetic Retinopathy FAQs Answered by Our Optometrist in Scottsdale, AZ
Diabetes increases the risk of vision loss conditions, including diabetic retinopathy. Keep reading to hear our answers to frequently asked questions about diabetic retinopathy, and learn how our Scottsdale optometry team can help.
What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy happens when small blood vessels that supply the retinas (light-sensitive tissues inside the eyes) become inflamed and damaged by chronically elevated blood sugar levels. Once damaged, these blood vessels leak fluids, which can scar the retinas and disrupt vision. As the disease progresses, diabetic retinopathy can lead to the growth of abnormal blood vessels, which may leak additional fluids and worsen retinal scarring.
At least 1 in 3 people with diabetes has diabetic retinopathy. In addition to having diabetes, other risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- Family history
- Poorly controlled diabetes
Diabetic retinopathy also increases the risk of a medical emergency called retinal detachment, in which the retina dislodges from the eyeball.
What are Diabetic Retinopathy Signs and Symptoms?
In early stages, diabetic retinopathy has no symptoms. Once retinal damage caused by diabetic retinopathy becomes severe enough, signs and symptoms can include:
- Blurry and cloudy vision
- Impaired nighttime and color vision
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 5 people with diabetes don't even know they have it. Because an eye doctor can diagnose diabetic retinopathy even before a person develops any symptoms, an optometrist is sometimes the first health care provider to alert someone that they may have diabetes. This is just another reason why routine eye exams are so important.
How Is Diabetic Retinopathy Treated?
Diabetic retinopathy can't be cured, but disease progression and associated vision loss can be slowed with professional help. Our Scottsdale optometrist team can support people living with diabetic retinopathy by:
- Providing early diagnosis through comprehensive diabetic eye exams
- Updating prescription eyewear
- Implementing low vision strategies
- Prescribing medications to help reduce inflammation in the eyes
- Offering supportive care for patients undergoing surgical procedures (e.g., vitrectomy, which removes blood fluid and scar tissue from inside the eye)
We also collaborate closely with other health care providers to maximize each patient's outcomes and help them improve their overall health, lifestyle, and diabetes management.
Do You or a Loved One Have Diabetes and Need an Eye Exam?
Everyone can benefit from routine eye exams, and especially individuals with diabetes. To schedule a diabetic eye exam with one of our experienced Scottsdale optometrists, call Eyes on Hayden now at (480) 900-2020.