Few parts of the body are immune from potential problems caused by diabetes. This includes the eyes. Without proper evaluation, treatment, and effective diabetes management, people with diabetes are at risk of developing a debilitating eye condition known as diabetic retinopathy that can lead to vision loss and blindness.
What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetes damages blood vessels throughout the body, including vessels contained in the retina, which is the light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of your eye. The damage to your eyes caused by diabetic retinopathy starts when sugar damages the small blood vessels that go to your retina, causing them to bleed or leak fluid.
To compensate for these blocked blood vessels, the affected eyes will then grow new blood vessels, but these new vessels simply do not work as well. These new blood vessels can bleed or leak easily, and if they start to bleed or leak into the vitreous (gel-like fluid that fills your eye), it can cause severe vision problems. Dark, floating spots or streaks that resemble cobwebs are some early signs of the condition, and without treatment, the bleeding can continue, get worse, and cause scarring that permanently damages the eye and impairs vision
Diabetic retinopathy can lead to other severe eye conditions, including:
- Diabetic macular edema (DME). This condition that causes blurry vision happens when blood vessels in the retina leak fluid into the macula, the part of the retina needed for sharp, central vision.
- Neovascular glaucoma. Diabetic retinopathy can cause abnormal blood vessels to grow out of the retina and block fluid from draining out of the eye. This leads to a type of glaucoma that can cause vision loss and blindness.
Who Is At Risk For Diabetic Retinopathy?
Anyone with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes can develop diabetic retinopathy, and many do. More than half of people who have diabetes will ultimately have some form of the condition, with the risk increasing with age. Women with diabetes who are pregnant or who develop gestational diabetes are at particularly high risk for diabetic retinopathy.
It is recommended that people with diabetes get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. Early symptoms of diabetic retinopathy can be hard to detect, but diagnosing it early can help minimize any damage the condition may cause. Equally important to preventing problems caused by diabetic retinopathy is effective diabetes management, including exercise, a healthy diet, and vigilant blood sugar monitoring.
Keep Your Blood Sugar In Check With CGM
Keeping blood glucose levels as close to your target level as possible is critical for preventing diabetes-related vision loss. One way to ensure that you keep your blood levels in check is through Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM). It is a tested, approved, accurate, and easy-to-use transceiver device that helps those with diabetes monitor keep abreast of their blood sugar levels 24/7 without any need to stop what their doing to take a blood sample.
Speak with your doctor and contact us today to see if you qualify for CGM and access our guide to continuous glucose monitoring.