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Diabetic Retinopathy

Lowcountry Eye Specialists

Ophthalmologists located in Ladson, SC

Diabetes can cause a variety of unpleasant complications, including diabetic retinopathy. If you have diabetes, make sure you have regular eye exams with our board-certified ophthalmologists at Lowcountry Eye Specialists in Ladson, South Carolina. They can diagnose diabetic retinopathy at an early stage before it affects your sight. To arrange your diabetic eye exam, call the practice today or book an appointment online.

Diabetic Retinopathy Q & A

What is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition affecting your eyes that can develop from diabetes. 

If you have diabetes, it means your body isn't producing enough of the hormone insulin, or your body can't make use of insulin properly. Because insulin regulates the sugar in your blood, diabetes means you could have unhealthily high blood glucose levels.

One of the possible complications of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, which is the primary cause of blindness in Americans of working age. The disease has two stages:

Background (nonproliferative) diabetic retinopathy (NPDR)

NPDR is the first stage, where damaged blood vessels in your retina start to leak additional fluid and small quantities of blood. In addition to leaking, some blood vessels may begin to swell or become clogged.

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR)

PDR is an advanced, severe form of diabetic retinopathy. It primarily occurs when a lot of the blood vessels in your retina close, stopping blood from flowing in your eye. Your retina responds to this problem by growing new blood vessels in an attempt to restore the blood supply, but the new vessels are fragile and likely to bleed.

The additional bleeding leads to swelling or macular edema, and scars are likely to develop. PDR might cause more severe vision loss than NPDR because it can affect your central and peripheral vision.

What are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?

Much of the time, diabetic retinopathy doesn't cause any symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage, and by then, the damage to your eyes could be severe. As the condition progresses, your vision may get quite blurry, and you might start seeing spots in front of your eyes.

The only way to detect the changes that cause diabetic retinopathy is to undergo an exam at Lowcountry Eye Specialists. By using specialized eye drops that dilate your pupils, your ophthalmologist can examine your retinas.

If it’s required for greater detail, your provider might also scan your retina.

Is diabetic retinopathy preventable?

The longer you have diabetes and the more advanced your condition gets, the more likely you are to develop diabetic retinopathy.

You can reduce your risk of diabetic retinopathy if you take steps to avoid diabetes and treat it early on if it does develop. This could include managing your blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure and quitting smoking.

You should also visit your ophthalmologist for a regular eye exam so they can detect diabetic retinopathy at the earliest opportunity. To schedule a consultation at Lowcountry Eye Specialists, call the office or request an appointment online today.