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Video: Overview of Diabetic Retinopathy

DIABETIC EYE EXAMS

Diabetic Eye Exams

Part of living with diabetes and maintaining the best vision possible is having a dilated eye examination at least once a year - more often for those people with existing vision problems, or more serious retinopathy.  That's why an optometrist is an important member of the diabetes health care team.

Nearly 23 million Americans are affected by diabetes, and of these people, nearly one-third, or almost 6 million are unaware that they have the disease.  Undiagnosed, diabetes can result in decreased vision, a frequent complication of both Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes, and even blindness.

Diabetic retinopathy, a diabetes-related eye disease, is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults 20 to 74 years of age.  Other vision problems caused by diabetes include:

  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Vision changes

A comprehensive dilated eye examination allows the eye doctor to look inside the eye and examine blood vessels, detecting signs and symptoms of diabetic retinopathy.  Diabetic retinopahty is a condition occurring in people with diabetes, which causes progressive damage to the retina and is a serious sight-threatening complication of diabetes.

Diabetic retinopathy is the result of damage to the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina.  These delicate blood vessels inside the eye, leak blood and other fluids that cause swelling of the retinal tissue and clouding of vision. Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes.  The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they will develop diabetic retinopathy. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause permanent blindness.

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy can include:

  • Difficulty seeing well at night
  • Flashers, floaters or spots in the field of vision
  • Fluctuating or blurred vision
  • Occassional double vision

Often there are no symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy.  This is why everyone with diabetes should have a comprehensive dilated eye examination once every year.  Early detection and treatment can limit the potential for significant, permanent vision loss from diabetic retinopahty.

 

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