In the first 3 years, about 8% of patients with diabetes develop retinopathy. Not many people are aware of retinopathy. It is important for you to know the symptoms and treatments if you have diabetes. Did you know that the primary cause of blindness is diabetes and the number is rising at an alarming rate every day.
The longer you have diabetes, the higher the chances of developing retinopathy. In order to slow down the progression of retinopathy is to control their blood sugar.
In the blood vessels in the retina, there will appear small balloon-like swellings also known as micro-aneurysms. This first stage is also recognized as mild non-proliferative retinopathy.
Blood vessels are blocked off. Blood vessel is crucial to the eyes as it supplies blood and nutrients to the retina. This block also causes lack of crucial oxygen to parts of the retina. This second stage is also recognized as moderate non-proliferative retinopathy.
If the disease is ignored, more and more blood vessels will be blocked off, depriving the retina of more nutrients, blood and oxygen. A signal is automatically sent for help to the brain asking for more oxygen to the retina. In response the body will grow more blood vessels on the retina but these new blood vessels will be very fragile. This third stage is also recognized as severe non-proliferative retinopathy.
At this advanced stage, the new and abnormal blood vessels starts growing along the retina as well as the clear gel inside the eyes. Patients do not experience any visual impairment at this stage as these blood vessels are very thin. Problems only arise when they start to leak blood into the eyes resulting in severe vision loss. The result will eventually be blindness. This fourth stage is also recognized as proliferative retinopathy.
Often in the early stages of retinopathy there are no symptoms. This is very worrying. You can be walking around with proliferative retinopathy and still see fine. Hence, early detection is important in order to be treated on time and that could only happen if you go for eye checkups on a regular basis.
Pregnant women with diabetes should visit their optometrist and have their eye checked within their first trimester. They should continue with the checks even after during the first year postpartum.
Hence it is imperative that those diagnosed with diabetes go for annual eye checks at their optometrist. Catching this disease at its early stage is crucial as it is treatable at this stage. Your optometrist will check for abnormalities like retina edema or swelling of the retina, nerve tissues that have been damaged, blood vessels leakage and signs of changes to your blood vessels. If you experience changes in your vision like blurred vision or even just problem seeing clearly, contact your eye doctor at once.