Who Is Most At Risk For Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that affects the retina’s blood vessels. As the name implies, it occurs as a result of diabetes.
But having diabetes isn’t the only factor in developing diabetic retinopathy. A person with well-managed diabetes can avoid diabetic retinopathy for some time.
They can even effectively manage it if it does develop. In fact, anyone can manage diabetic retinopathy with regular eye exams and early diagnosis. Keep reading to learn more about who is most at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
The Effects of Diabetes on Vision
Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among people with diabetes. When diabetes is uncontrolled, your blood sugar levels can remain too high for too long.
This can cause the blood vessels in your retina to grow abnormally, swell, and leak, leading to retina damage. The retina is vital in translating the light that passes through your eye to the optic nerve.
This is where information gets sent to your brain as complete images. If the retina gets damaged, parts of your vision can blackout.
And always remember, any part of your vision that is lost due to retinal damage cannot be restored. The most effective treatment for vision loss from diabetic retinopathy is prevention.
Most Common Risk Factors
There are a variety of risk factors for diabetic retinopathy beyond having diabetes:
● Having diabetes for an extended period
● Having uncontrolled diabetes
● High blood pressure
● High cholesterol
● Being of African American, Native American, or Hispanic ethnicity
Managing Your Risk
Some of the risk factors listed above are preventable. However, some obviously are not. That does not mean that if you have diabetes that you will lose your vision to diabetic retinopathy.
But it does mean you should be aware of your increased risk. You may want to consider regular eye exams to find any early signs of diabetic retinopathy.
When it comes to controllable factors, the best thing you can do is try and remain healthy. A healthy diet, exercise, and proper diabetes management help when preventing premature blindness.
Managing diabetes isn’t easy. Being vigilant about your diet can positively affect your health beyond your vision.
If you have trouble managing your health, talk to your doctor. They can help you come up with strategies for keeping your diabetes under control.
Managing Diabetic Retinopathy in Early Stages
If you have diabetes, diabetic retinopathy will likely affect your eyes at some point. This is true even if you keep your diabetes under control.
But this is no reason to panic. If you have eye exams at least once a year, your doctor can diagnose diabetic retinopathy early on. In the early stages, diabetic retinopathy is manageable. This may require injection treatments of medications in the eye. Another option might be to perform a laser procedure to the retina.
These treatments restrict the growth of new blood vessels and can keep diabetic retinopathy from damaging your vision. More aggressive treatments may include a vitrectomy. During a vitrectomy, some of the gel-like substance that fills your eye may be removed.
This helps ease tension from swelling.
Your doctor will be able to recommend what treatment will be most effective for you. The most important thing you can do is be aware of your risk and keep track of your ocular health as best you can.
If you do that, diabetic retinopathy can be manageable and you can keep your vision for many years to come.
Do you have more questions about diabetic retinopathy? Schedule an appointment at the Nielsen Eye Center in the Greater Boston area now! Call us at 877-373-2020.