The most common eye disease among diabetics is diabetic retinopathy. This eye disease occurs when blood vessels in the retina are damaged and usually occurs in both eyes. The most common symptom of diabetic retinopathy is a slight change in vision. Over time, the condition can worsen, causing greater vision loss which can be permanent. Diabetic retinopathy is the number one cause of acquired blindness in the United States. In addition, 40%-50% of Americans newly diagnosed with diabetes have some stage of diabetic retinopathy. The best way to prevent diabetic retinopathy from developing is to have an annual dilated eye exam from Boling Vision Center.
4 stages of diabetic retinopathy:
Stage 1 – Mild – Non-proliferative Retinopathy
At this stage, blood vessels in the retina may experience small areas of balloon-like swelling called microaneurysms. Mild to no vision loss is noticeable.
Stage 2 – Moderate – Non-proliferative Retinopathy
As the disease progresses, some of the blood vessels that the retina depends on for nourishment are blocked. At this stage, vision is threatened and moderate vision loss is possible.
Stage 3 – Severe – Non-proliferative Retinopathy
In this stage, additional blood vessels become blocked, depriving the retina of blood supply. Once this occurs, the retina sends signals to grow new blood vessels. Vision loss is noticeable, possibly even severe.
Stage 4 – Proliferative Retinopathy
This is the most advanced stage of the disease. Additional blood vessels have grown to nourish the retina, but these new blood vessels are fragile and may burst open to cause significant bleeding in the eye. At this stage, severe vision loss is likely and may result in legal blindness.
Tips to prevent diabetic retinopathy:
- Control blood glucose levels
- Don’t smoke
- Keep blood pressure stable
- Check cholesterol levels
- Eat a healthy diet
- Move for at least 30 minutes a day
If you would like to know more about diabetic retinopathy, or would like to schedule an appointment with one of our Boling Vision Center doctors, call 800.283.8393. Don’t delay when it comes to the health of your eyes – early detection can prevent permanent vision loss.