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Eight Facts About Diabetic Retinopathy

Did you know that diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of blindness in the U.S.? At Nevada Eye Physicians'­ locations in Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City, Mesquite, and Pahrump, NV, we care about the health and wellness of our patients. This is why our skilled physicians provide helpful information, diagnostic testing, and options for diabetic retinopathy treatment. Learn more about this condition here and reach out to our facility today to schedule a consultation. 

1. Diabetic retinopathy affects patients with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. 

When consistently high blood sugar levels cause a buildup of fluid pressure in the eye, this damages the blood vessels in the retinal tissue. Long-term damage occurs when blood vessels leak, prevent blood from passing, or cause abnormal blood vessels to grow. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to have diabetic retinopathy. 

2. There are no symptoms during the early stages. 

Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes and may not show symptoms during the early stages of the disease. It can only be detected with a thorough eye examination that looks for specific indicators such as damaged nerve tissue, leaking blood vessels, and swelling. While there are no signs early on, you may notice vision problems, blurriness, decreased color vision, and the appearance of "floaters" (spots in your vision that looks like gray or black specks or strings that float across the eyes) as the disease gradually progresses. 

3. There are tests to determine if you have diabetic retinopathy. 

When you make an appointment with Nevada Eye Physicians, our physicians will conduct an eye chart visual test so we can determine how well you can see at different distances. We will also measure the amount of pressure in the eye to make sure there are no abnormalities. 

For some patients, we may use a technique called fluorescein angiography, where we inject a special fluorescent dye that goes into your bloodstream. This highlights the blood vessels in the retina to see if there’s any damage such as bleeding or leaking. 

4. Options are available for people diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy. 

A diagnosis does not necessarily mean you will lose permanent vision in your eyes. There are several positive steps we can take based on the severity of your condition. Options include medication, injections, laser treatment, and eye surgery. 

For example, corticosteroids can alleviate symptoms such as inflammation. Laser treatment may be able to target the damaged blood vessels to prevent further leaking. Anti-VEGF drugs can also be injected into the vitreous gel of the eye to block the protein that is responsible for the growth of abnormal blood vessels. 

5. Patients with diabetes need to control their blood sugar levels. 

One of the most successful ways to prevent the progression of diabetic retinopathy is by controlling your diabetes and blood sugar levels. Ask your primary care physician about eating a healthy diet of nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and losing any excess weight. Remember to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly as directed by your doctor. This may require you to check your levels up to several times a day. 

6. Early diagnosis and treatment is key. 

While there is no method to reverse vision loss or blindness, an early diagnosis and proper treatment could mean a 95% reduction in the occurrence of blindness. An ophthalmologist will be able to discuss your medical history and vision, as well as conduct several tests to confirm the diagnosis. 

At Nevada Eye Physicians, we suggest scheduling an exam every year or as requested by your doctor. Before administering any tests, we will explain how they work and what you can expect. 

7. Even patients with mild symptoms should report them right away. 

Please know that it’s dangerous to ignore any changes to your vision. Many believe that hazy or blurred vision is simply a sign of aging and as a result, ignore the initial symptoms of diabetic retinopathy. Signs may only become noticeable once the condition advances. Some of the typical symptoms to look out for include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Sudden changes in vision
  • Eye floaters and spots
  • Double vision
  • Eye pain

8. Patients with diabetes need routine eye exams. 

The best way to determine if you have diabetic retinopathy is to have a skilled, experienced physician check your eyes. Even if you have no symptoms, you could still have eye damage. Regular checkups can detect eye disease early and prevent vision loss and blindness.

Learn from our experts 

Nevada Eye Physicians serves residents of Las Vegas, NV, and the surrounding communities. Our goal is to deliver high-quality care using innovative technology and techniques. At our eight locations in Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City, Mesquite, and Pahrump, NV, our friendly staff helps patients feel comfortable and relaxed. It is essential for patients with symptoms of diabetic retinopathy to visit a member of our team right away for an eye exam. To learn more, reach out to Nevada Eye Physicians today. 

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.