People with diabetes are at greater risk of eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy affects the blood vessels in the retina. Left untreated, it can cause severe vision problems and even blindness.
If you have diabetes, you should have a yearly eye exam, so your doctor can check for early warning signs.
To learn more about diabetic retinopathy or plan a visit with a UPMC eye doctor, call 412-647-2200 or 1-800-446-3797.
Learn more about:
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that results from a loss of blood flow and oxygen to the retina.
The retina is in the back of the eye. It collects light and turns it into a signal the brain translates as vision.
Diabetic retinopathy can cause problems ranging from minor blood and plasma leaks in the retina to total blindness. In fact, it's a leading cause of blindness in U.S. adults and often affects both eyes.
There are two kinds of diabetic retinopathy:
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the retina doesn't get enough blood.
People who have had diabetes for longer that isn't well controlled are at greater risk. It's vital to control your diabetes to lower your risk of diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy can happen to anyone with diabetes. This includes type 1, type 2, and gestational (diabetes during pregnancy).
Diabetes while pregnant can speed up the pace of retinopathy, so eye exams during the first trimester are crucial.
The longer your diabetes goes unmanaged, the more likely you will have eye problems.
Diabetic retinopathy affects about 40% of all people with type 1 diabetes and 20% of those with type 2.
Other risks include:
Keeping your blood sugar at the right level can reduce the chance of diabetic retinopathy.
Untreated diabetic retinopathy may lead to:
You may not notice any symptoms in the early stages of the disease. This is why routine eye exams are so important.
When you do notice symptoms, they may include:
The earlier that your doctor diagnoses your diabetic retinopathy, the better.
That's why it's crucial to have yearly dilated eye exams. Screening exams with photos of your retina also can be very helpful.
During a dilated eye exam, the doctor:
Anyone with diabetes should have an eye exam at least once a year.
To diagnose diabetic retinopathy, your eye doctor will:
Once your doctor has diagnosed the disease and how severe it is, they'll create a tailored treatment plan.
Diabetic retinopathy treatment may include:
If caught early through an eye exam, diabetic retinopathy may be reversible.
At the very least, early treatment can stop it from getting worse.
No. It will not get better on its own.
Making lifestyle changes in the early stages may reverse it, but later stages require treatment.
You need to see an eye doctor for routine exams. They can check for signs of the disease and find the best course of treatment.
Your eye doctor can suggest the best treatment for you. It may depend on how advanced your eye disease is and your health.
No matter what diabetic retinopathy treatment your doctor suggests, it's vital to manage your diabetes. Keeping your blood sugar under control will help keep your eyes healthy.Back to top.
To plan a visit to the UPMC Vision Institute, call 412-647-2200 or 800-446-3797.