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Diabetic Eye Care

Individuals with diabetes have an elevated risk of developing many conditions of the eye, and should receive regular comprehensive eye exams to monitor eye health. Catching problems early vastly reduces the risk of significant vision loss. At Capitol Eye Care, one of our top priorities is to prevent blindness from diabetes. Our advanced technologies and our experienced eye care professionals make us a leading center in the region for diabetic eye care.

Diabetic 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. Tight control of blood sugar can have a major impact on a diabetic patient's ability to prevent diabetic retinopathy and its progression.  Early diabetic retinopathy usually has no symptoms. However, worsening diabetic retinopathy can lead to visual loss.

The stages of diabetic retinopathy are divided into two categories, nonproliferative retinopathy and proliferative retinopathy.

Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR)

This is the first and earliest stage of diabetic retinopathy. NPDR occurs when the small blood vessels of the retina leak fluid or bleed.  Left untreated, leakage of fluid into the retina can cause blurring of central vision.  Fortunately, if the fluid leakage is caught at an early stage, treatment with medication or laser can arrest the process before vision loss occurs.

Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR)

Some patients with diabetes develop a proliferation of abnormal blood vessels adjacent to the optic nerve, retina, or iris.  The new abnormal blood vessels tend to grow haphazardly, bleed easily, and can cause all sorts of havoc in the eye.  Bleeding and subsequent scar formation can cause sudden and severe loss of vision.  If PDR develops, vision loss is generally preventable with injectable medication or laser treatment.  Once vision loss occurs, surgery may be necessary to recover the lost vision.

Diabetic Retinopathy Symptoms

  • If you are a diabetic patient, be sure to have regular eye exams to detect retinopathy BEFORE vision loss occurs. 
  • Retinal swelling may cause blurred vision and distortion.
  • Objects may look smaller or larger than normal
  • Floaters or sudden vision loss may occur if there is bleeding from abnormal blood vessels.

The best weapon in fighting diabetic retinopathy is early detection.

How is Diabetic Retinopathy Diagnosed?

Retinopathy, particularly at its earliest stages may not produce any visual symptoms.  Therefore, it is crucial for all patients with diabetes to undergo a complete eye exam with careful evaluation of the retina at least once a year and more frequently once diabetic retinopathy is detected.

Patient Responsibility: Diabetic Eye Care

It is very important for diabetic patients to take very good care of themselves to help prevent diabetic retinopathy. Patients should have regular medical exams and try to maintain good blood sugar levels, good blood pressure, and avoid smoking.

Statistics From the National Eye Institute

According to the National Eye Institute, it is estimated that nearly 5.4 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).