Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that is caused by complications related to diabetes. This disease can take years to develop however if left untreated and undiagnosed it can lead to blindness. People suffering from diabetes have a high blood sugar level, which can damage the retina (back of the eye).
If you suffer from diabetes here are two simple steps you can follow to reduce your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy:
- Control your blood sugar level, blood pressure and cholesterol at all times
- Attend all diabetic eye tests
- Have a regular eye health check
What causes diabetic retinopathy?
A healthy retina needs constant blood supply to stay healthy, which is received through tiny blood vessels in the eye. Over time if the blood sugar level remains high it can start to cause permanent damage to these vessels. Here are the different stages of retinopathy:
- Background retinopathy – tiny bulges develop in the blood vessels; this will not usually cause any vision problems.
- Pre-proliferative retinopathy – more severe damage to the blood vessels occurs, causing bleeding into the eyes
- Proliferate retinopathy – scar tissue and week blood vessels develop on the retina, which can result in vision loss
If diabetic retinopathy is picked up early, treatment and lifestyle changes can help to stop the condition from getting worse.
As mentioned before, it is hard to pick up diabetic retinopathy at an early stage, as you will not usually notice any symptoms, which is why it is so important that you attend your diabetic eye check so that they can perform special tests.
If you experience any of the below symptoms, it is important that you book an appointment with your GP, optician, optometrist or ophthalmologist:
- Vision that gradually worsens over time
- Sudden loss of vision
- Floaters (shapes or dark patches in your field of vision)
- Pain in the eyes
- Red eyes
- Blurred or altered vision
This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.