Common Questions About Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetes can have a serious impact on your eye health and may eventually lead to blindness. How does this happen, and can you prevent it? Our team at Chapel Hill Ophthalmology answers these questions and more below.
What exactly is diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that affects the vision of those with diabetes. Having diabetes means that your body does not produce enough insulin or that the insulin cannot be used properly. Insulin is the hormone responsible for removing glucose from the body. When there isn’t enough insulin or it's not properly used, glucose builds up in the blood vessels. Unfortunately, this prevents blood and nutrients from moving through the vessels and to the eyes, or it can cause blood to leak from the vessels. Eventually, it can impact the optic nerve.
What symptoms come with this condition?
Some of the first symptoms include seeing strings or dark spots or experiencing gaps in your visual field. Eventually, it can lead to complete vision loss.
When should I have my vision checked for signs of diabetic retinopathy?
It’s wise to see your eye doctor as soon as you are diagnosed with diabetes. Not only can your eye doctor provide steps you should follow to keep your eyes healthy, but it also gives them the opportunity to track changes and development over time. From there, it’s crucial to have a dilated eye exam at least once every year. If you need additional monitoring or intervention, your eye doctor will let you know.
Can it be prevented or treated?
Unfortunately, if you have diabetes, you are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. The good news is that you can lower your risk by managing your condition properly and being aware of any additional risks. For example, if you have diabetes and you smoke, have high blood pressure, or have high cholesterol, your risk is increased. Therefore, you can lower your risk by quitting smoking and managing any other conditions.
Taking care of yourself in general, meaning eating well and exercising, can also reduce your risk. And keeping all of your eye exams is crucial because once vision loss occurs, it can’t be reversed. Catching it early and taking proper care of yourself and your eyes must be the priority.
Visit Our Ophthalmologists in Chapel Hill, NC
If you’re living with diabetes, let our team at Chapel Hill Ophthalmology help you protect your vision. Call (919) 942-8701 to schedule your appointment today.