What is Diabetic Retinopathy, and How is it Caused?
Millions of Americans are affected by diabetes, and though the disease is manageable, those living with diabetes are often susceptible to a number of health risks. At Gulfcoast Eye Care, we take extra measures with our patients who have diabetes to monitor eye health, as high blood sugar levels can severely damage the blood vessels in the eyes. When the retina begins to be impacted by diabetes, the condition is known is diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy typically manifests in stages. First, the blood vessels in the retina begin to leak blood or fluid. Then, fluid may collect in the center of the retina and obstruct clear vision. In more advanced stages of the disease, abnormal blood vessels can grow near the retina and break, bleed, or create scar tissue. In some cases, strained scar tissue can cause retinal detachment.
Since diabetic retinopathy normally develops in stages, routine eye exams can help ensure your eye doctor catches this condition when it first manifests and provide you with prompt treatment. Dr. Jason Handza, our in-house retina specialist, recommends patients with diabetes have an eye exam performed at least once a year, and urges pregnant women with diabetes to schedule an appointment within their first trimester as pregnancy can accelerate the condition. If you have questions about diabetic retinopathy, or to schedule an eye exam, please contact us today.