When you have diabetes, you have to take extra care of your eye's health. Even if your vision is good, you could potentially have serious eye issues. One potential problem many people with diabetes develop is diabetic retinopathy. However, just because you have diabetes doesn't mean you need extensive treatment, at least right away.
Read on to learn more about how and why people with diabetes develop this eye disease and when you may need treatment.
Why Do People With Diabetes Have Eye Problems?
Diabetes can damage your body's fine blood vessels. It can cause them to leak and grow abnormally. Your eyes are full of tiny blood vessels that are susceptible to leaking. When they do, they can cause damage to other parts of the eye, including the macula.
What Are the Early Signs of Diabetic Retinopathy?
Symptoms in the early stages are almost nonexistent. You may have some subtle signs that you may think are related to age or cataracts. Only an eye exam can truly diagnose your symptoms as diabetic retinopathy in this stage.
How Does the Doctor Check for Diabetic Retinopathy?
A full eye exam is the best way to check for diabetic retinopathy. Your doctor will likely take images of your retina and perform a traditional dilation procedure. He or she may also inject a dye into your arm to check for possible leakage in the small blood vessels in your eye.
When Should Diabetic Retinopathy Be Treated?
In the earliest stages, all you may need is monitoring. You may need more frequent eye exams than someone without diabetes. Your condition may never progress beyond the earliest stages provided you take steps to keep yourself healthy. More moderate stages may cause blurriness and an increase in floaters. Severe cases often have noticeable vision problems, especially in the middle of the eye. These two stages require treatment to keep you from losing all your eyesight. Treatments include medications and even surgery.
What Can People With Diabetes Do to Prevent Retinopathy?
You can reduce your risks by keeping your health and diabetes under control. Don't let your blood sugar elevate above normal, and quit smoking if you smoke. The more often you can't adequately control your blood sugar, the higher your chance of damaging diabetic retinopathy.
Having diabetes doesn't mean you will lose your eyesight. However, you must take extra steps to ensure your eyes stay healthy. If your doctor feels you need further treatment, then he or she will refer you to a specialist. For more information about diabetic retinopathy and its complications, talk to your doctor, ophthalmologist, or cataract and eye disease specialist.