Diabetic retinopathy, a complication associated with diabetes, affects the patient's eyes, leading to damaged blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye.
It is a risk for those with type 1 diabetes, in which the body produces little or no insulin, and for people with type 2 diabetes, which results in an improper production of insulin in the body.
SPECIAL: Fend Off Diabetes With Chocolate
There may be no symptoms or mild visual problems when diabetic retinopathy begins, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The risk for the condition increases the longer a person has diabetes or the less controlled a diabetic’s blood sugar levels become.
The effects of diabetic retinopathy will increase gradually. Symptoms may remain unnoticed until significant damage has been done to the eyes and vision problems appear, Mayo said. Management of diabetes usually includes examinations with an eye doctor once a year to detect problems early.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy may include blurred, distorted, or double vision. Diabetics may begin to notice a difficulty in reading, the medical website reported. Floaters or spots may appear in the vision. Shadows may occur across the field of vision.
Symptoms may also include constant redness, pain, or pressure in the eye, WebMD said.
Treatment for the condition depends on when it has been diagnosed and how severe the problem has become. The doctor may not recommend treatment in mild cases, but will monitor the possible progress of the condition to determine if treatment is necessary, WebMD said.
The disease is progressive, starting with microaneurysms, or small bulges in blood vessels in the eye, that may burst and affect the retina, WebMD said. But at this point, it rarely affects vision.
"As retinopathy progresses, fluid and protein leak from the damaged blood vessels and cause the retina to swell. This may cause mild to severe vision loss, depending on which parts of the retina are affected," WebMD reported. "If the center of the retina (macula) is affected, vision loss can be severe. Swelling and distortion of the macula (macular edema), which results from a buildup of fluid, is the most common complication of retinopathy. Macular edema treatment usually works to stop and sometimes reverse your loss of vision."
Laser treatments can be performed in the doctor’s office, and may be used to treat the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, the Joslin Diabetes Center said.
It uses laser burns to treat the abnormal blood vessels in the eye in advanced cases of proliferative diabetic retinopathy or macula edema. These treatments may not return vision to normal, but can improve it.
Another procedure, called vitrectomy, removes blood and scar tissue with a tiny incision in an area that tugs on the retina, the center said. Local or general anesthesia may be used for the operation, which is usually handled in a hospital or surgical center.
Other treatments being studied include medication to prevent the development of abnormal blood vessels and injected medication to treat the abnormal vessels, Mayo reported.
ALERT: Reverse Type 2 Diabetes. New Strategies Show How.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.