Diabetes is a severe disease that affects more aspects of your health than people realize. Eyesight is no exception to the effects of diabetes.
It can lead to the early development of cataracts, glaucoma, and blurry vision when you have high blood sugar. Diabetes can also cause a unique eye disease called diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy can cause vision loss if it goes untreated. Keep reading to learn more about diabetic retinopathy and what it does to your eyes.
It Damages Your Retina
Diabetic retinopathy affects the retina inside your eye. The retina is a thin tissue that lines the back inner wall of your eye.
It has millions of photosensitive cells on it called rods and cones. That means they sense light which they then convert into electrical signals.
Your rods and cones send these signals to your brain, which translates them into images. The retina is a complex, fragile system and is vital to your eyesight.
Diabetic retinopathy is when the sugar in your blood damages the blood vessels in your eyes. It blocks them up, which causes bleeding and new, weaker blood vessels to form.
These new blood vessels are weak and also tend to bleed, which amplifies the problem. All this bleeding blocks vision as the blood leaks into the eye cavity.
It Can Cause Permanent Vision Loss
There are two stages of diabetic retinopathy. They are non-proliferative (NPDR) and proliferative (PDR).
NPDR is the first stage and is common among people with diabetes. It is problematic, and you may experience some blurriness in your vision with NPDR, but it is not severe or dangerous.
The second stage, PDR, is much more dangerous to your eyesight. As the disease progresses and weak blood vessels keep forming in your eye, scar tissue develops.
This scar tissue pulls on the retina, which creates holes and tears on the surface. Tears in the retina allow blood and fluid to leak behind it and push it away from the wall of your eye.
If the retina gets pushed far enough away from the wall of your eye, it will detach completely. A detached retina can cause permanent vision loss if it goes untreated.
It Can Lead to Other Vision Problems
Diabetic retinopathy can also trigger other serious problems that threaten your vision. Diabetic macular edema begins when PDR spreads to the macula or center part of your retina.
The macula is responsible for focused central vision like recognizing faces. The blood vessels cause the macula to swell, blurring the central part of your vision.
Neovascular glaucoma is a potential side effect of diabetic retinopathy. It occurs when the new blood vessels block the drainage meshwork of the eye.
This blockage increases the pressure inside the eye until it damages your optic nerve. Damage to your optic nerve can cause permanent vision loss.
It is Difficult to Detect
Diabetic retinopathy does not have many symptoms in the early stages. It may cause your vision to fluctuate in the beginning. But until it permanently damages your eyesight, you may not even realize you have it.
Early detection is essential to prevent diabetic retinopathy from ruining your vision. Schedule an appointment with Eye Physicians & Surgeons of Arizona in Glendale, AZ, to ensure diabetic retinopathy does not take your eyesight!