Diabetic retinopathy refers to the damaging effects of high blood sugar on blood vessels in the eye. This disease is the leading cause of blindness among adults in the U.S.
How does high blood sugar damage vision?
The retina, located at the back of the eye, is responsible for sending light entering the lens to the brain to be processed into a visual image. High blood sugar damages retinal blood vessels, causing them to swell up and leak or to grow abnormally on the surface of the retina. This can severely damage vision.
What are the symptoms?
- Spots or dark strings floating in your vision (floaters)
- Blurred vision
- Fluctuating vision
- Dark or empty areas in your vision
- Vision loss
Who is at risk for diabetic retinopathy?
If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you are at risk. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to experience vision loss. In fact, diabetic retinopathy is estimated to be present in 90% of those who have had the disease for 20 or more years.
What can be done to lower that risk?
The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial conducted by the National Eye Institute showed that better control of blood sugar levels can slow the development and progression of diabetic retinopathy.
Regular eye exams and an ongoing partnership with a qualified eye care professional who is familiar with the condition of your eyes are also very important.