Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic eye disease may include:
bulletDiabetic retinopathy—damage to the blood vessels in the retina.
bulletCataract—clouding of the eye’s lens.Cataracts develop at an earlier age in people with diabetes.
bulletGlaucoma—increase in fluid pressure inside the eye that leads to optic nerve damage and loss of vision. A person with diabetes is nearly twice as likely to get glaucoma as other adults.

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among adults in the United States.   Approximately 25% of current diabetics have some form of the disease.  The risk of developing diabetic retinopathy increases with the age of the diabetic person and the duration of the disease.  It is estimated that 90% of diabetics may experience some form of diabetic retinopathy over the course of their life. However, only a small percentage of those developing diabetic retinopathy have serious vision problems, and even a smaller percentage become blind.

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes mellitus which causes abnormalities in the tiny blood vessels nourishing the retina.  These vessels weaken, leak fluid and blood, and fail to provide nutrients necessary for good health in the retina. Left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can result in severe visual loss, including blindness.

Though vision may gradually become blurred, significant loss of sight does not usually occur with background retinopathy.  Since the patient does not experience pain or external symptoms such as bloodshot eyes or discharge, changes in the retina can go unnoticed unless detected by an eye examination.

A comprehensive eye examination is the best protection against the progression of diabetic retinopathy.  The Idaho Eye Center can diagnose and treat diabetic retinopathy.

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