Diabetic retinopathy is the result of damage to the retina caused by diabetes and is the main cause of blindness in Americans 20-74 years old. 80% of all patients who have lived with diabetes for 10 years or more are affected by diabetic retinopathy. However, research has shown that 90% of these cases could be eliminated if the patient has regular treatment and monitoring of their eyes.
The retina is the layer of tissue inside of the eye. It absorbs light that enters through the front of the eye and transmits an image that is sent via nerve signals in the optic nerve to the brain. Retina has thousands of little blood vessels that not only nourish the tissue. In case of elevated blood sugar levels (like in patients with diabetes), these delicate blood vessels can sustain significant damage. In some cases they may become blocked completely, cutting off blood supply to the retina and causing vision loss. In response to the lack of blood, the body may try to form new blood vessels that are weak, leaky and can create retinal damage.
Generally early diabetic retinopathy may be treated by controlling blood sugar levels and close monitoring by an eye doctor. On the other hand, advanced diabetic retinopathy may prompt surgical treatment, such as laser treatment which aims to shrink abnormal blood vessels or stop them from leaking.
Most often, patients do not notice symptoms until damage to their retina is too severe, a big reason why people with diabetes should have regular eye exams. Early diagnosis and recognition of diabetic retinopathy and the proper timing of treatment can make the difference between good vision and blindness.
on important in learning and development, a comprehensive eye exam is strongly recommended for children before school begins to identify any possible color vision deficiencies.