Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition in which the blood vessels in the back of the eye become damaged as a result of high blood sugar (glucose). This prevents the retina from receiving the nutrients that it needs to maintain good vision. The condition is caused in patients that have diabetes and high blood sugar. If diabetic retinopathy goes untreated for a prolonged period of time, the patient can actually go blind from this eye disease. That is why it is so important that patients with diabetes and high blood sugar get the condition diagnosed and seek treatment for diabetic retinopathy before the vision is permanently destroyed.
Early Signs of Diabetic Retinopathy
Unfortunately, the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy do not typically present themselves in the earliest stages of the disease. Patients that are at risk of developing this condition should undergo an eye exam at least once per year so a physician can perform the tests that can detect diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic Retinopathy Symptoms
By the time that patients begin to experience diabetic retinopathy symptoms, the disease has usually progressed to its later stages, and resulted in macular edema or retinal detachment. When the blood vessels are damaged due to high blood sugar, the body grows new blood vessels. The growth of the new blood vessels can cause the retina to detach from the eye, a condition called retinal detachment. If retinal detachment is not treated, the patient could go blind. The growth of the new blood vessels can also result in fluid leaking into the macula, a condition known as macular edema. The symptoms of these problems include:
- Blurred vision
- Floaters or spots (caused by blood vessel leaks)
- Loss of color vision
- Loss of central vision
- Shadowed vision
- Difficulty reading