Diabetic retinopathy, a condition caused by diabetes, occurs when the blood vessels in the back of the eye change. These vessels can weaken and leak fluid or abnormal vessels can grow on the surface of the retina, which may hemorrhage. Diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of blindness in the 20-64 year age group, and is one of the most frequent causes of retinal blindness in the world. About 25 percent of diabetics have some form of diabetic retinopathy, and five percent have severe disease. Early detection is vital to prevent vision loss or blindness.
Watch Dr. Matthew Clary and Dr. Ryan N. Mercer discuss diabetic retinopathy.
Proliferative retinopathy occurs when new, fragile blood vessels develop on the retina. This condition is usually treated with laser surgery to help shrink the abnormal blood vessels. These treatments work better before the fragile new blood vessels have started to bleed. Even if bleeding has started, diabetic laser treatments may still be possible, depending on the amount of bleeding. If the bleeding is severe, you may need a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy.
Preventing Diabetic Retinopathy
You can reduce your risk of these eye problems by improving your blood sugar control. People with type 2 diabetes usually have signs of eye problems when diabetes is first diagnosed. Maintaining a healthy weight with a low calorie diet and regular exercise along with control of blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol has an important role in slowing the progression of retinopathy and other eye problems.
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