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Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment in Ohio

Optometrist pointing at an eye chart to test a diabetic retinopathy of his patient's eyesight

According to the Ohio Department of Health, 1 in 9 Ohioans have diabetes, and nearly a third of these individuals aren't aware of their diagnosis. If you're concerned about your vision and believe it could be related to diabetes. Speaking with an eye doctor is never too late. At Vision Care of Ohio, we deliver quality diabetic retinopathy treatment that can optimize your eye health and quality of life. 

Understanding Diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes is a chronic disease that makes it hard for a person's body to control their blood sugar levels. This causes blood sugar (glucose) to frequently stay too high. Too much sugar in the blood (hyperglycemia) is inflammatory and can injure tissues, including blood vessels. 

Diabetic retinopathy is a vision problem that affects people with type 1 and types 2 diabetes. Over time, chronically high levels of sugar in the blood can damage, scar, and block off small blood vessels. That normally brings blood, nutrients, and oxygen to the retinas inside the back of the eyes. With the blood supply cut off, retinas become damaged, which can cause vision loss. 

At some point, new blood vessels may start to develop. This happens in order to make up for the damaged ones. These new blood vessels are fragile—That's why vessels tend to leak fluids, which further damages the retinas.

Diabetic retinopathy isn't the only eye problem affecting people with diabetes. For people with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to develop glaucoma. Two to five times as likely to develop cataracts, according to the National Eye Institute.

Common Diabetic Retinopathy Symptoms

Young lady taking off glasses and massaging eyes due to headache from eyestrain.

People with diabetic retinopathy might not notice symptoms early on. Over time, as the blood vessels and retinas become more damaged, people can experience diabetic retinopathy symptoms like:  

  • Spots or "floaters" in your field of vision
  • Blurry vision
  • Difficulty in seeing objects in close-up or even far away

In the early stage of diabetic retinopathy. The symptoms may come and go, but they tend to grow worse. The symptoms grow more persistent as the disease progresses. Eventually, a person may become completely blind.

Diabetic Retinopathy Causes and Risk Factors

We've learned that diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage to the blood vessels and retinas inside the eyes. This is a result of chronically high blood sugar. Not everyone with diabetes will develop diabetic retinopathy. Nevertheless, you may be more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy. Following that, you have certain risk factors, including:

  • Smoking
  • Poorly controlled diabetes
  • A long history of diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure 
  • Gestational diabetes (diabetes that develops during pregnancy)
  • African-American, Hispanic, or Native American race/ethnicity

The Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy develops in a series of stages. The two main diabetic retinopathy stages include: 

  • Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy: blood vessels inside the retina become progressively damaged and blocked, but new blood vessels aren't yet growing. 
  • Proliferative diabetic retinopathy: in this stage. Blood vessels in the retina are blocked off. The new abnormal blood vessels start to form and leak fluids into the eye. 

Advanced and untreated diabetic retinopathy can lead to other complications. Including retinal detachment, which is a medical emergency that happens when the retina detaches from the back of the eye. This is due to scarring left behind by the damaged blood vessels. 

When to See an Optometrist

Adult man having a diabetic eye exam at the Vision Care of Ohio clinic

Remember, diabetic retinopathy doesn't usually have symptoms early on. Even if damage to the blood vessels in your retinas is already occurring. That's why you should see an optometrist at least once a year for a routine diabetic eye exam

During your routine eye exam. One of our Northern Ohio optometrists or ophthalmologists can assess the health of your eyes. They can Monitor for early warnings and signs of other conditions. They can also provide appropriate treatment. The diabetic retinopathy treatment you need depends on factors specific to you. You may benefit from:

  • Medications injected into the eyes to prevent new blood vessels from growing
  • Surgery, including vitrectomy or laser coagulation, to remove fluids from inside the eye or stop blood vessels from leaking
  • Vision correction tools, including prescription eyewear and low vision modifications

It's also important to manage your underlying diabetes properly. Manage it with appropriate diet, exercise, and medications. 

Our Willoughby, Vermillion, and Middleburg Heights optometry and ophthalmology team has decades of experience helping people with diabetic retinopathy. We take time to truly get to know our patients. Allowing us to help patients achieve their specific vision and eye health goals.

Looking for Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment in Ohio? 

If you live near Willoughby, Vermillion, or Middleburg Heights OH, and are looking for diabetic retinopathy treatment, call Vision Care of Ohio now to schedule an appointment.

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