November 22, 2009 by
It’s estimated that 40 to 45 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some stage of Diabetic Retinopathy. Diabetic Retinopathy is caused by damage to the retina. It is the leading cause of blindness in adults in the US. With Diabetic Retinopathy, blood vessels may leak or new blood vessels can grow on the surface of the retina, which may result in patches of blind spots.
In the early stages of the disease, there are often no symptoms or pain. However, as the disease progresses, individuals can experience blurred vision, specks of blood or spots in their vision, vision loss, and even blindness.
There are four stages of Diabetic Retinopathy, they are:
- Mild Nonproliferative Retinopathy: This is the early stage of the disease. In this stage, swelling occurs in the retina’s blood vessels
- Moderate Nonproliferative Retinopathy: In this stage, some blood vessels that supply the retina become blocked.
- Severe Nonproliferative Retinopathy: In this stage, more blood vessels supplying the retina become blocked and the eye then starts to grow new blood vessels.
- Proliferative Retinopathy: This is the advanced stage of the disease. The new blood vessels have thin walls and grow along the retina and the gel that fills the inside of the eye. If these blood vessels break, it can result in vision loss and even blindness.
Populations at Risk for Diabetic Retinopathy
- People with Type I diabetes
- People with Type II diabetes
- Some pregnant women with diabetes
Controlling blood sugar, blood, pressure, and cholesterol are key in preventing progression of the disease. In the latter stages of diabetic retinopathy, someone may undergo laser surgery and a virectomy (removal of the blood from the center of the eye). Check out the National Eye Institute to learn more about treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy.
Source: National Eye Institute