Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in working-age Americans suffering with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and early detection is the key to maintaining good eye health and preventing vision loss. If you have diabetes or are at risk for developing diabetes, it is important to schedule annual eye exams with your ophthalmologist, so that you can properly monitor the health of your eyes.
Patients at risk, or who have diabetes, should have comprehensive eye exams annually, control their blood sugar (glucose), blood pressure, and cholesterol levels at all times, exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet. Diabetic patients should also refrain from smoking.
There are two stages of retinopathy. The first stage is non-proliferative, which may progress to proliferative.
Signs and Symptoms
Spots or dark strings floating in your vision
Blurry, spotty, hazy or impaired color vision
Dark or empty areas in your vision
If diabetic retinopathy is detected early, treatment is usually successful at minimizing or preventing vision loss.
The most common form of treatment is intravitreal injection with either Avastin, Lucentis or Eylea. Laser photocoagulation is another technique that is a painless procedure that allows the doctor to seal broken blood vessels and also help prevent abnormal new blood vessels from growing in the retina.
If blood has leaked into the eye and cannot be treated with a laser or intravitreal injection, abnormal blood vessel growth can be addressed with a procedure called vitrectomy.
New treatments with intravitreal injections of Avastin can also be helpful at preserving vision and diabetic retinopathy.