What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy, or vision loss caused by diabetes, is the leading cause of blindness in adults. Chronic high blood sugar that coincides with diabetes causes blood vessels in the retina to weaken and constrict the proper flow of blood. The retina, the tissue that lines the back of the eye, can be cut off from its blood supply and is no longer able to receive the proper nourishment it needs. Eventually, the eye condition can cause patients to experience blindness or severe vision loss.
Awareness of this Eye Disease
Currently, 7.7 million Americans are affected by diabetic retinopathy and this number is projected to grow to 11 million Americans by the year 2030. The best way to prevent the disease is through early detection. Awareness of the condition and education around its symptoms can mean the difference between catching the condition early on and treating it effectively and properly or being left with the reality of irreversible vision loss when it is too late.
Unfortunately, many patients are unaware that they have diabetic retinopathy until the later stages of its progression. Because diabetic retinopathy can be symptomless for quite some time or may cause only mild vision problems for a while, the condition can suddenly cause blindness in both eyes in a patient that was seemingly healthy.
Managing Diabetic Eye Disease at Beach Eye
An annual comprehensive dilated eye exam by the board-certified eye doctors at Beach Eye can make the difference in terms of keeping your eyesight and preventing irreparable damage in the future. With two convenient locations, one in Huntington Beach and one in Irvine, we serve patients from all over the Orange County area.
A yearly check-up can detect diabetic retinopathy in its earliest stages, when it is treatable and has not yet done so much damage to the retina. Furthermore, patients who want to control the onset of the diabetic eye disease should work closely with their doctor to monitor and manage their diabetes over time. Some crucial steps in managing diabetes so as to prevent associated vision loss include:
- Taking diabetes medications regularly and in the manner prescribed by your general physician
- Being aware of your ABC’s (A1C, blood pressure level, and cholesterol level)
- Eating well and in controlled portions so as to maintain a healthy diet and weight
- Incorporating regular exercise into your routine
At Beach Eye, we will sit down with you and create a long-term plan that is personalized to your goals and to your current health and habits. When you make an appointment at either our Huntington Beach or Irvine location, we will discuss your options, keeping prevention of diabetic retinopathy primarily in mind. We understand that living with diabetes presents a unique set of challenges, but we encourage you to be proactive about the associated risks of vision loss as a long-term solution to maintaining and preserving your eyesight.