Diabetes is a condition in which your body has trouble managing your glucose levels, and it can have devastating effects on your health, including the health of your eyes. High blood sugar can cause damage to the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, causing diabetic retinopathy. Clayton Stevens, MD of Stevens Eye Care in Biloxi, Mississippi, offers his expertise in helping people with diabetes manage this condition and prevent serious complications. Call the office or book online for all your diabetic eye care needs.
When your body can’t produce insulin or doesn’t effectively use the insulin you do produce, you have diabetes. Diabetes is a set of conditions, including Type 1, Type 2, and gestational versions.
When diabetes isn’t well-managed, it can cause your blood sugar levels to be constantly elevated. This causes damage to organs such as the heart, blood vessels, and kidneys. The blood vessels at the back of the eye in the retina are vulnerable, and when they’re affected by fluctuating blood sugar levels, it can alter the shape of your lens and cause blurry vision.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar affects the blood vessels at the back of the eye around the retina. When they’re damaged, they leak, close off, or swell. You may also grow new, abnormal blood vessels on the surface of the retina.
Anyone with diabetes is at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. You’re particularly vulnerable if you have poor blood sugar control. Your risk increases even more if you have diabetes and:
People of African American, Hispanic, or Native American descent are also at greater risk.
Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy is the earliest stage of diabetic retinopathy. With this condition, damaged blood vessels in the retina begin to leak small amounts of blood and other fluid into the eye. Deposits of cholesterol or other fats from the blood may leak into the retina as well.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed when many of the blood vessels in your retina close. Your retina goes into a process of neovascularization, meaning it grows new blood vessels.
These new blood vessels are often abnormal and prevent your retina from receiving optimal blood flow. Scar tissue also accompanies the new vessels and can cause the retina to wrinkle or detach.
Treatment for diabetic retinopathy focuses on controlling your blood sugar levels. If you do develop diabetic retinopathy, it can’t be cured or reversed, but you can stifle its progression.
Routine eye exams are incredibly important if you have diabetes. If you’re living with diabetes, call Stevens Eye Care, or schedule an appointment online today.