Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, affecting millions of men and women each year in the U.S. Having regular vision evaluations and eye exams is the best way to “catch” diabetic retinopathy in its early stages so it can be treated and the risk of permanent vision loss can be reduced. Odessa Vision is dedicated to providing complete eye care for patients with a wide range of vision disorders and diseases, including diabetic retinopathy. If you have diabetes or you’re at risk for diabetes, here’s what you should know about diabetic retinopathy.

What is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy (sometimes referred to as DR) is a progressive eye disease that affects the light-sensitive retina located at the very back of the eye. The retina contains special cells that react to light. In DR, the tiny blood vessels in and around the retina begin to develop weak spots. Over time, these weak areas can leak blood and other fluids into the retina, blocking light and causing images to appear blurry and indistinct. In some types of diabetic retinopathy (called proliferative DR), new blood vessels form to compensate for the vessels that are damaged. These new vessels form a network that can block a substantial amount of light, resulting in increased vision loss over time. Sometimes, these new vessels wind up breaking, forming scar tissue that tugs on the retina. Without proper treatment, the retina can become completely detached from the eye, resulting in permanent blindness.

What symptoms does diabetic retinopathy cause?

In the very early stages of the disease, many patients have few or even no symptoms. That’s why it’s so very important to have regular vision exams to help spot the signs of the disease so treatment can begin before permanent vision loss occurs. As the disease progresses to more serious stages, it can cause symptoms like:

  • Blurred vision.
  • An increase in the number of “floaters,” squiggly lines or dots that appear to “float” in front of your field of vision.
  • Dark spots in your field of vision.
  • Reduced color vision – specifically, colors may appear less vibrant or distinct.

How does an optometrist in Odessa diagnose and treat diabetic retinopathy?

Dr. Hembree and Dr.Jackman are skilled in diagnosing and treating DR in patients throughout the Odessa, TX, area. Diagnosis of DR begins with a comprehensive eye exam to assess your vision and evaluate your retina and other structures of your eyes. Depending on the stage of the disease, you may be able to manage your symptoms and control the disease with better management of your blood sugar levels. In more advanced stages, injections of special medicines can shrink new blood vessels and laser treatment can be helpful in eliminating scar tissue to reduce the risk of retinal detachment. Your treatment will be based on your needs to ensure you enjoy the best possible results.

Know your risks for DR: See a top-rated optometrist in Odessa, TX.

If you have diabetes, having regular eye exams is essential for preventing serious eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts. As a top-rated optometry practice in Odessa, TX, Odessa Vision is focused on providing patients with the highest-quality care to diagnose and manage eye diseases and help prevent vision loss at every age. If you have diabetes, take the next step toward preserving your vision. Call Odessa Vision at 432-362-3133 and schedule an eye exam today.