With over 11% of the U.S. population affected, diabetes is an incredibly prevalent condition. Though many know about diabetes, and some may even know a few of the complications associated with it, few know that diabetes can significantly impact the eyes.
Known as diabetic retinopathy, this eye complication of diabetes affects over a quarter of those with diabetes. In some severe cases, if diabetic retinopathy progresses, it may lead to blindness. Learning what diabetic retinopathy is, the risk factors associated with it, and potential ways to mitigate damage may help you retain your eyesight.
Why Does Diabetes Affect The Eyes?
Diabetes leads to an increase in blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels, inhibiting their function. One area where blood vessels can be damaged is the retina, the light-sensitive area of the eye. Once damaged, you may experience visual changes from blurry vision to loss of vision and may experience pain.
Does Having Diabetes Mean You Will Develop Diabetic Retinopathy?
While diabetes has many complications that can develop, it does not mean you will develop them. As mentioned before, a quarter of those with diabetes will develop diabetic retinopathy. Of those, nearly 20 percent will develop vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy.
What Are The Risk Factors?
A major risk factor in developing diabetic retinopathy is having diabetes. However, further risks include a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, issues with circulation, and diseases or conditions that damage blood vessels.
How Diabetic Retinopathy Can Be Managed?
Though diabetic retinopathy cannot be cured, it can be successfully managed to delay or offset worsening visual symptoms. A strict, effective diabetes management plan that can include medications and lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise can help keep blood sugar levels low enough to prevent blood vessel damage.
In some cases, injections can be utilized to prevent abnormal blood vessel growth, laser treatments can mitigate blood vessel leakage, and even surgery can remove damaged tissue.
Manage Diabetic Retinopathy at Kirk Eye Center Today
Diabetic retinopathy can be a serious eye condition that needs managing. Though it may take time for visual impairments to develop, establishing early treatment can help preserve your vision.
At Kirk Eye Center, board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. John Kirk and optometrist Dr. Dustin Asay provide comprehensive and personal care. To learn more about diabetic retinopathy treatment in Loveland, Fort Collins, Windsor, CO, and surrounding areas, call today at 970- 669-1107 or submit a contact form.