Diabetic Retinopathy is a common eye disease in Type I and Type II diabetics, and a leading cause of blindness in American adults. Between 40-45% of adults with diabetes have some stage of Diabetic Retinopathy, and the longer a person has diabetes, the more likely it is they will develop the disease.
Diabetic Retinopathy usually affects both eyes. In some patients, blood vessels in the retina may swell and leak fluid (known as Macular Edema), while in others, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina (called Proliferative Retinopathy).
The Four Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy:
- Mild Nonproliferative Retinopathy – the earliest stage of the disease, in which microaneurysms (small areas of balloon-like swelling) occur in the tiny blood vessels in the retina.
- Moderate Nonproliferative Retinopathy – in the next stage of the disease, some of the blood vessels that nourish the retina are blocked, reducing the retina’s blood supply.
- Severe Nonproliferative Retinopathy – in the disease’s next stage, enough of the retina’s blood supply is blocked that the body signals for the growth of new vessels to compensate for the diminished blood supply.
- Proliferative Retinopathy – in the advanced stage of the disease, new, fragile, abnormal blood vessels develop in response to the body’s signals for increased blood supply. These abnormal vessels aren’t a problem in and of themselves, but if they leak (which they are prone to do), severe vision loss or blindness can result.
Symptoms & Treatment
The disease may or may not cause symptoms like blurred vision or “spots” in the field of vision. Sometimes visual spots clear on their own, but that doesn’t mean they won’t recur or that the disease is not still progressing.
Diabetic Retinopathy can easily be detected by a medical professional during an exam, so an annual comprehensive dilated eye exam is recommended for anyone with diabetes. Pregnant diabetic women should have an exam as soon as possible, as pregnancy can increase the risk.
The risk of Diabetic Retinopathy-induced blindness can be reduced by up to 95% with timely treatment and follow-up care to better regulate blood sugar, so regular exams and patient vigilance are strongly encouraged.
Better vision may be just a phone call away!
While they won’t cure Diabetic Retinopathy, specialized eyeglasses with advanced optics can greatly improve vision for many sufferers. To find out whether you or your loved one might benefit from Dr. Bissell’s custom eyeglasses, please contact us today or call 1-888-552-2020 to schedule a free, no-obligation 15-minute phone consultation.