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What Are the Warning Signs of Diabetic Retinopathy?

October 1 2022
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Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of blindness for adults ages 20 to 74 years of age. Without prompt and proper treatment, diabetic retinopathy can lead to progressive vision loss and even blindness. The good news is that most forms of diabetic retinopathy are treatable if detected at an early stage. 

Read on as an Old Tapan, NJ optometrist talks about diabetic retinopathy and the warning signs to watch for.

What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common sight-threatening eye disease in the United States. It’s a complication of diabetes that can damage the blood vessels in your retina and lead to blindness if left untreated.

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in your retina—the light-sensitive tissue at the back of your eye. Damage to these tiny blood vessels can cause bleeding, swelling, and scarring. As these changes progress, they can block more of the light coming into the eye, causing loss of vision.

Types of Diabetic Retinopathy

There are two types of diabetic retinopathy:

  • Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) — this type has no symptoms and usually develops slowly over time. It affects about half of all people with diabetes who have had diabetes for 15 years or more. NPDR often causes mild vision problems such as faint shadows or floaters, blurred vision, spots in front of your eyes (floaters), or difficulty seeing at night (night blindness).
  • Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) — this type causes more severe vision problems than NPDR does because it damages more blood vessels and increases the risk for permanent vision loss. PDR can lead to vitreous

Warning Signs of Diabetic Retinopathy

Many people with diabetes do not have symptoms of diabetic retinopathy at first. But if you have high blood sugar for many years, it can cause serious problems like blurred vision and blindness.

If you notice any changes in your vision, see an eye doctor as soon as possible. You should also see an eye doctor right away if you have any of these warning signs:

  • Floaters (objects that drift across your field of vision)
  • Flashes of light in one or both eyes
  • Dark spots in your vision
  • Blurred vision, especially at night 
  • Irregular, wavy lines that move across your field of vision
  • Dulling of colors or loss of color vision 
  • New floaters that don’t go away after a few weeks
  • A sudden decrease in sharpness or clarity of vision 

If you have more questions or are experiencing warning signs of diabetic retinopathy, please don’t hesitate to call our Old Tapan, NJ optometry office today!

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