Diabetic retinopathy is damage to the retina caused by complications of diabetes and is the leading cause of blindness in American adults.
It is an ocular manifestation of diabetes, a systemic disease, which affects up to 80 percent of all patients who have had diabetes for 10 years or more. The longer a person has diabetes, the higher his or her chances of developing diabetic retinopathy.
Despite these intimidating statistics, research indicates that at least 90% of new cases could be reduced by preventative monitoring during regular eye examinations and proper treatment.
There are multiple forms of diabetic retinopathy, and only your doctor can determine your particular form. With one form, blood vessels may swell and leak fluid. In another, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina.
In the early stages, many do not notice a change in their vision because there are little to no symptoms. If an eye doctor does not catch diabetic retinopathy early, one could sustain mild blurriness at near or in the distance, as well as floaters. In severe cases, a sudden loss of vision may occur.
Unfortunately, diabetic retinopathy can result in permanent damage that cannot be reversed. However, if caught in time, prescribed treatments may slow development and prevent vision loss.
If you have diabetes and are concerned about diabetic retinopathy, schedule an appointment with Dr. Baalman for a comprehensive eye exam and be sure to include it on your patient history form.