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Eye Specialists of Westchester

Office (914) 235-9500
Optical (914) 235-8262

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Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that results from damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (the retina). It is possible to have diabetic retinopathy and not know it, as you may not experience any symptoms in the early stages. As diabetic retinopathy progresses, it can result in blindness.

Anyone who has type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes is at risk for diabetic retinopathy. The longer you have diabetes, and the less controlled your blood sugar is, the more likely you are to develop diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic patients should take prevention of diabetic retinopathy very seriously by carefully controlling their blood sugar level and having regular eye examinations.

Symptoms

Since it is uncommon to experience symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, patients may be unaware that they have the disease. Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes. As the condition progresses, diabetic retinopathy symptoms may include:

  • Spots or dark strings floating in your vision (also known as floaters)
  • Blurred vision
  • Fluctuating vision
  • Dark or empty areas in your vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Impaired color vision

Risk Factors

Anyone can develop diabetic retinopathy, but the risk is greater if you:

  • Have poor control of your blood sugar level
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high cholesterol
  • Are pregnant
  • Are black or Hispanic
  • Smoke

The longer you have diabetes, the greater your risk is of developing diabetic retinopathy. Careful management of your diabetes is the best way to prevent diabetic retinopathy. Because it is important to detect diabetic retinopathy in the early stages, if you have diabetes, see your ophthalmologist yearly for a dilated eye examination. This is extremely important even if you have no symptoms and your vision seems fine. If you become pregnant, your ophthalmologist may recommend additional eye examinations throughout your pregnancy, because pregnancy can sometimes increase the risk of and worsen diabetic retinopathy.