Diabetic Eye Disease — Diabetic Retinopathy Development and Stages

Diabetic Eye Disease — Diabetic Retinopathy Development and Stages

Diabetes can wreak havoc on the body in a lot of ways. This common condition develops when sugar is not being used or stored properly. Symptoms of diabetes include high blood sugar levels, excessive urination, and thirst. It may also cause changes in the blood vessels, veins, and arteries.

Vision can also be affected by diabetes, it can lead to glaucoma, cataracts and damaged vessels in the eye. In addition, the condition puts you at risk for diabetic retinopathy, also known as diabetic eye disease.

Diabetic Eye Disease

Diabetic retinopathy can result in vision loss. This diabetic condition develops when negative changes occur in the ocular blood vessels. Damaged vessels in the retina become fragile as they leak blood or fluid, develop scar tissue and brush-like branches. This caused images to appear blurred and distorted. The retina is in the rear of the eye and sends images to the brain. If this nerve layer is damaged, vision is impaired.

Developing Diabetic Eye Disease

The chance of developing diabetic retinopathy increases the longer a person lives with diabetes. In the U.S. diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in adults. Untreated diabetics are at a higher risk for vision loss than the general population. What’s more, 80 percent of people who have suffered from diabetes for 15 years or more have some degree of retinal blood vessel damage. Fortunately, only a small percentage of patients with diabetic eye disease develop blindness due to early diagnosis and treatment.

Types of Diabetic Retinopathy

  • Background Retinopathy: This is the beginning stage of diabetic eye disease. In the early stage, tiny damaged vessels in the retina leak fluid or blood. This moisture causes exudates (deposits) to form. Vision is not affected at this point, but it can lead to more advanced stages of the disease. Background retinopathy is the warning stage.
  • Macular Edema: If the leaking collects in the macula, this condition is called macular edema. This impacts the ability to see fine details. It may become harder to read or do any type of work up close.
  • Proliferative Retinopathy: This is the most severe type of diabetic retinopathy. About 20 percent of all diabetics develop the condition which leads to serious vision loss, or blindness. Proliferative retinopathy is indicated by neovascularization, abnormal vessels that grow on the retinal surface. Newer blood vessels have weaker walls and are more prone to breakage and bleeding. The blood leakage can obstruct light from reaching the retina and cause blurred vision and distorted images.

Diabetes leaves you at risk for many conditions that are destructive to your body, including diabetic retinopathy. Early intervention is the key to keeping diabetic eye disease from progressing to the advanced stages and putting your vision at risk. So, to maintain your eye health and sight, schedule a visit with your eye doctor today.

Book an Appointment