Diabetic Retinopathy FAQs from Our Naples, FL Ophthalmologist
Diabetes has a way of sneaking in and destroying your body, including your eyes. Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about diabetic retinopathy to give you the knowledge you need to address it.
What is diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetes affects blood vessels throughout a person’s entire body. At some point, it begins to impact the blood vessels in the eyes, which is known as diabetic retinopathy. Chronically high levels of blood sugar causes blood vessels to swell and leak blood, which can cause visual trouble.
This eye condition can affect all people with diabetes, but it usually doesn’t show up until several years after diabetes starts. It is best to be checked for diabetic retinopathy about five years after being diagnosed with diabetes. You should then have an eye exam every year afterward.
What are the risk factors for diabetic retinopathy?
There are some things that can make diabetic retinopathy worse or speed up the condition’s negative impact. Some of the most common are below:
- • Uncontrolled diabetes
- • Smoking
- • Pregnancy
- • High blood pressure
- • High cholesterol
Additionally, those of Hispanic, Native American or African American descent are at a higher risk.
Keep in mind, though, that even those who control their diabetes, keep their blood pressure and cholesterol low, don’t smoke, or fall into these other categories, are still at risk. You’ll need to work with your doctor and ophthalmologist closely to limit your risk and slow any progression of diabetic retinopathy.
Can diabetic retinopathy cause vision loss?
Diabetic retinopathy can cause total vision loss. Typically, though, blindness is only an issue after several years of living with diabetic retinopathy. It is also much more likely if it is left undiagnosed or untreated. The earlier you get tested and begin addressing the issue, the higher your chances are of saving your sight.
Can it be treated?
Diabetic retinopathy can be treated, but unfortunately, there is no cure for the condition. Once vision loss begins, it cannot be reversed. When addressed early enough, though, the condition’s progress can be slowed.
One of the main factors of treatment is to keep your diabetes and blood pressure under control. Working closely with your doctor and making any necessary diet and lifestyle changes are keys to success in this area.
An ophthalmologist can provide treatments such as laser photocoagulation, which can address current leaky blood vessels and prevent new blood vessel growth.
If blood has already entered your vitreous humor, you might need a procedure known as a vitrectomy to clear it up. There are other treatments your ophthalmologist can provide according to the stage of the condition and your needs.
Schedule Your Next Ophthalmology Appointment in Naples, FL
Whether you have just been diagnosed with diabetes or have been living with it for some time, it’s imperative you get your eyes checked regularly. Give Naples Eye Physicians a call at (239) 262-6288 to book your appointment today.