Diabetic Retinopathy – Don’t Be Blind to the Risks!

August 29, 2019

Diabetes is one of the most dangerous diseases known to man. This all-too-common condition causes a variety of health issues that can significantly shorten your life, while also greatly diminishing its overall quality. In 2015, 252,806 American death certificates listed diabetes as an underlying or contributing cause of death. 

Diabetes is a chronic illness that interferes with your body’s ability to turn food into energy. Most of what you eat is broken down into sugar (glucose), which is released into your bloodstream. When the level of sugar in your blood rises, your pancreas begins to release insulin. The chemicals in insulin convert the blood sugar to energy. If you are a diabetic, your body may not make enough insulin, or it can’t use the insulin properly. People suffering from diabetes have an increased risk for problems such as: 

• Heart disease 

• Skin disease 

• Dental problems 

• Stroke 

• Digestion problems 

• Nerve injuries 

• Infection 

• Kidney disease 

• Erectile dysfunction 


And that isn’t all. Diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of blindness, and it affects more than half of the 18 million Americans with diabetes to some extent. Diabetic retinopathy can develop with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The longer you suffer from diabetes, especially if your blood sugar isn’t tightly controlled, the more likely you are to develop this serious complication. Excess sugar in your blood can cause blockages in the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina, cutting off the blood supply. When this happens, your eye attempts to grow new blood vessels. However, the new blood vessels don’t develop properly, causing them to leak or break. Diabetic retinopathy leads to several serious conditions. 


Vitreous hemorrhage-New blood vessels can bleed into the clear, jelly-like material of your eye. Minor bleeding can cause spots in your vision. Severe bleeding can fill the vitreous cavity and block your vision completely. Most cases of vitreous hemorrhage don't cause permanent vision loss. The blood in your eye usually clears on its own relatively quickly, but it’s essential to have an eye doctor’s care during this time. This condition needs to be monitored carefully as it resolves. 

Retinal detachment-The abnormal blood vessels produced with diabetic retinopathy encourage the growth of scar tissue, which eventually pulls the retina away from the back of the eye, resulting in spotty vision, flashes of light or severe vision loss. 

Glaucoma-New blood vessels may grow in the front of your eye, obstructing the normal flow of fluid out of the eye. Pressure in the eye will increase, leading to glaucoma. The end result is damage to the optic nerve, which carries images from your eye to your brain. 


You can help prevent diabetic retinopathy in several ways: 


• Manage your diabetes with healthy eating, physical activity and prescribed medications. 

• Monitor your blood sugar level carefully.  

• Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol within healthy limits. 

• Don’t smoke or use other types of tobacco. 


Visit your eye doctor as soon as possible if you have diabetes and notice any of these symptoms: 


• Spots or dark strings floating in your vision (floaters) 

• Blurred vision 

• Fluctuating vision 

• Impaired color vision 

• Dark or empty areas in your vision 

• Vision loss 


The optometrists at Pro-Optix Eye Care are dedicated to providing each of the Tanglewood/Galleria Area’s diabetics with the best possible care for their eyes. We want everyone with diabetes to have a vision exam with dilation every year. Subtle changes in the eye can develop quickly. If caught early, the risk of serious eye issues or blindness can be significantly reduced. Don’t take risks with your vision - call us at 713-360-7095 today to schedule an appointment. 



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