Diabetes is a disease that interferes with the body's ability to use and store sugar, which can cause many health problems. Too much sugar in the blood can cause damage throughout the body, including the eyes. Over time, diabetes affects the circulatory system of the retina.
Diabetic retinopathy is the result of damage to the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. They leak blood and other fluids that cause swelling of retinal tissue and clouding of vision. The condition usually affects both eyes. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they will develop diabetic retinopathy. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness. It is the leading cause of blindness in the United States.
Diabetic retinopathy can be diagnosed with a comprehensive eye exam. This testing, with special emphasis on evaluation of the retina and macula, is routinely performed at VisionCare Specialists.
The doctors at VisionCare Specialists send hundreds of letters each year to communicate with patient's general practitioner, per patient request. Our evaluations let diabetic patient's doctors know whether there are signs of diabetic retinopathy. This helps their doctor know the progression of diabetes and if it is starting to affect organs in the body. This communication is essential in helping provide total health care not just eye health care.
If you are a diabetic, you can help prevent or slow the development of diabetic retinopathy by taking your prescribed medication, sticking to your diet, exercising regularly, controlling high blood pressure and avoiding alcohol and smoking.