Diabetes has severe damaging effects on blood vessels throughout the body. When the blood vessels in the retina become damaged, they may leak fluid, bleed or lead to the growth of scar tissue. All of these changes can cause blurring, dismtortion, loss of detail vision, floaters and blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of new blindness in adults in the United States. However, with early diagnosis and treatment only a small percentage of people who develop diabetic retinopathy will go on to develop severe vision loss.
According to the National Eye Institute, it is estimated that nearly 5 million Americans, ages 18 and over currently have diabetic retinopathy. This eye disease causes over 8000 cases of new blindness annually, and is the primary cause of blindness for people ages 25 to 74 (Valero and Drouilhet, 2001).
Although considered one disease, there are many types of diabetic retinopathy . The two main categories are nonproliferative (when blood vessels leak) and proliferative (new blood vessels grow, or proliferate) retinopathy.Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in American adults. In the majority of diabetic retinopathy cases, blindness is completely preventable. Patients will need to work closely with the our Eye Institute to monitor and treat this disease. The use of medications and daily blood sugar monitoring can make a major impact on containing the worsening of diabetic retinopathy.
The retina is like the film in a photographic camera; in which it is the light sensing film on the back of the eye that captures the images. In the diabetes disease, sugar (glucose) builds up within blood vessels in the retina and tissues of the body causing it to attach to the proteins in the wall. This alters the vessel’s normal structure and functioning. The vessels eventually get blocked and leak fluid. When they cannot deliver an adequate amount of blood supply to the eye, the eye can generate abnormal new blood vessels. Early diabetic retinopathy usually has no symptoms. However, worsening diabetic retinopathy can lead to visual loss and blindness.
The stages of diabetic retinopathy are divided into two categories, nonproliferative retinopathy and proliferative retinopathy.
Quick NOTE: If you have diabetic retinopathy, at first you may not notice changes to your vision. Over a long period of time, diabetic retinopathy can get worse and cause vision loss.
Blood vessels damaged from diabetic retinopathy can cause vision loss in two ways:
Weak and abnormal blood vessels can develop and leak blood into the center of the eye, blurring vision.
Fluid can leak into the center of the macula, the fluid makes the macula swell, blurring vision. This condition is called macular edema. It can occur at any stage of diabetic retinopathy, although it is more likely to occur as the disease progresses.
Learning to live with diabetes and diabetic retinopathy
Essential nutrition tips for Los Angeles diabetic retinopathy patients
If you are diabetic patient you have most likely had some kind of discussion with your primary care doctor regarding diet. The nutrition of the food you eat becomes critical for maintaining proper blood sugar levels. Please refer to this list below fordiabetic eye nutrition tips:
Drink water (8 glasses per day)
Reduce artificial fats
Juice and vegetables
Increase fiber intake
Reduce caffeine or refined sugar
Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment Options
Laser treatments – These laser treatments are also known as photocoagulation. The laser uses controlled bursts to seal leaking blood vessels, destroy abnormal blood vessels, seal retinal tears and remove abnormal tissue that has formed on the back of the eye.
Intraocular corticosteroids – Many studies have been conducted recently with these types of injections. They may reduce retinal swelling and improve visual acuity in patients with diabetic macular edema.
Vitrectomy – A vitrectomy may be performed to clear blood and debris from the eye, to remove scar tissue, or to alleviate traction on the retina. The Vitrectomy actually removes vitreous gel from the eye through a small incision using a laser. Vitrectomy allows the retina to flatten. Depending on the severity of the diabetic retinopathy, gas or air might be placed in the eye to replace the vitreous fluid that was removed. This gas or air helps smooth out the retina and prevent retinal detachment.
Living with Diabetes
If you are diabetic eye care patient we suggest regular eye examinations by Dr, Davidi to monitor any activity related to your retina and blood vessels in the back of the eye. Dr. Davidi helps many people with diabetes on a yearly basis and we hope to help you too!
Diabetic Retinopathy Prevention
Researchers have found that diabetic patients who are able to maintain appropriate blood sugar levels have fewer eye problems than those with poor control. Diet and exercise play important roles in the overall health of those with diabetes. Diabetics can also greatly reduce the possibilities of eye complications by scheduling routine examinations with an ophthalmologist. Many retina problems can be treated with much greater success when caught early.