Diabetic Retinopathy: How It Can Affect Your Vision, and How to Avoid It


Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common complications that can arise as a result of diabetes, and it also has the potential to be one of the most serious. Diabetic retinopathy can be found in people who are affected by both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and it can lead to a significant reduction in the quality of your vision. In extreme cases, it can lead to a total loss of vision. So what exactly is diabetic retinopathy? And what can you do about it?

Damage to Your Retina

As the word "retinopathy" might suggest, diabetic retinopathy affects your retinas. Diabetes can cause the sensitive tissues that comprise your retina to become swollen or even bleed. There might also be abnormal growth as the retina attempts to heal itself. Since the retina sends nerve impulses to your brain in conjunction with your optic nerve, any damage to the retina can lead to severe issues with your vision. In short, the more damaged your retina becomes, the worse your vision becomes.

Some of the most common symptoms of diabetic retinopathy can include:

  • Desaturated colours (where everything seems to be darker).
  • Ongoing blurred vision.
  • Blind spots (gaps in your vision, frequently at the edges of your usual range of vision).
  • An abundance of dark spots that seem to be floating in your range of vision.

Eye Examination

Diabetic retinopathy can often develop long before any symptoms become obvious to you. This is why regular visits to the optometrist should be a vital part of managing your diabetes. The optometrist will administer medicated eye drops designed to dilate (widen) your pupils. They will then examine the interior of your eyes using a retinal camera. This allows them to catch diabetic retinopathy before it begins to affect your vision. You can then make changes to your diabetes management plan to prevent the diabetic retinopathy from developing any further. This might be changes to your diet and lifestyle, and any other changes deemed necessary by your doctor. Your doctor will also tell you how often to have your vision checked by an optometrist, and this will vary depending on your age and the severity of your diabetes.

So while diabetic retinopathy has the potential to be very serious, it can certainly be identified and avoided before your vision becomes affected. This is why regular eye examinations are a vital part of managing your diabetes.


23 May 2016

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