Diabetic Retinopathy - a Warning Not to Be Ignored
Many people with diabetes will often tell you that it wasn't a blood test that alerted them to the fact that they had the condition. Rather, it was either their optometrist or their podiatrist. This is because the condition tends to manifest itself first in the eyes as retinopathy or in the feet as neuropathy. In the case of retinopathy, it is the eyes. Here at Atlantic EyeCare in Virginia Beach, we treat patients who have diabetic retinopathy, helping them to preserve their sight.
The Role of the Retina in Vision
Located at the back of the eye, the retina is composed of a thin layer of nerves and photoreceptor cells that sense light, register color, and sends this information on to the brain by way of the optic nerve. Any damage to this fragile collection of cells has the potential of resulting in blindness. For example, a damaged retina can become disconnected from the brain. The retina can also suffer damage due to swollen leaking blood vessels, as is the case in diabetic retinopathy.
Retinopathy and Diabetes
Diabetes is usually the cause of retinopathy and is caused by high levels of glucose in the blood. If left untreated and uncontrolled, diabetes will result in elevated blood glucose levels, which over time causes oxidative stress and damage to blood vessels. As there are many small, fragile blood vessels in the retina, this is one of the first places where the effects of diabetes becomes apparent.
Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
Whether or not you have been diagnosed with diabetes, any of the following changes in vision should prompt a visit to our optometrist:
- blurred vision
- decreased night vision
- seeing floaters in the eye
- a dark spot in the middle of your vision
Nearly 50 percent of Americans are not aware that diabetes causes any of the above symptoms and over 30 percent don't know that a comprehensive eye examination is the only way to spot damage to the eye and the potential for blindness. If you are one of the many Americans suffering from diabetes, give Atlantic EyeCare a call so we can schedule an eye examination appointment for you.