Diabetes is a life-changing condition that can, if not controlled, have devastating effects on the health of your eyes. The condition, known as diabetic retinopathy, can, in a worst-case scenario, cause complete loss of vision.

However, such an awful occurrence doesn’t happen overnight—there are many clues that a situation is evolving, with the biggest being changes in the quality of your eyesight. The following discusses the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, why they occur, and the steps necessary to keep this potentially life-changing side-effect of diabetes under control. 

Diabetic Retinopathy: The symptoms

  • What does a person with diabetic retinopathy see? The warning signs

What does a person with diabetic retinopathy see? The warning signs

In the early stages of the disease, there might be no change to your vision. As the condition progresses  a range of symptoms that may occur. These include:

  • Seeing floaters: These are spots or strings that ‘float’ in your field of vision. They’re so-named because if you try to focus on them they shift—or float—as you do so.
  • Blurring of your vision
  • Dark or empty spots
  • Difficulty to see well at nighttime
  • Complete vision loss

Any or all of these symptoms may fluctuate, becoming better and worse at random.

Diabetic Retinopathy: The causes

  • Causes of diabetic retinopathy and the resulting visual disturbances
  • What does a person with diabetic retinopathy see? NPDR
  • What does a person with diabetic retinopathy see? PDR

Causes of diabetic retinopathy and the resulting visual disturbances

Excessive blood sugar will, over an extended period, cause damage to the tiny blood vessels of the eye. This, in turn, cuts off the blood supply to the retina. They can also leak, causing blurred vision and color distortion.

The body might attempt to rectify this by growing new blood vessels, but these tend to be very fragile and don’t develop correctly. Because of this, they can leak blood, which also causes visual changes.

There are two types of diabetic retinopathy: early and advanced. The technical name for the former is nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR). The latter is called proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR).

What does a person with diabetic retinopathy see? NPDR

In the early stages visual disturbances will be mild or non-existent. During this time the walls of the blood vessels in the eye weaken and develop microscopic bulges. These can leak and the vessels can become blocked. Other structures within the eye can also swell, such as the macula (a part of the retina) and nerve fibers.

What does a person with diabetic retinopathy see? PDR

The more advanced form of the disease is when the visual symptoms become more obvious. This is because the damaged blood vessels deprive the retina of oxygen and new blood vessels begin to form, often leaking and causing clouding of the vision.

Other complications can include scar tissue within the eye, retinal detachment, and the formation of glaucoma. If left untreated, these can cause serious vision problems and even blindness. 

Best Management of Diabetic Retinopathy

  • Regular eye exams
  • Manage your condition

Regular eye exams

Regular eye exams from an experienced ophthalmologist are essential for anyone who suffers from either type I or type II diabetes. While diabetic retinopathy can’t always be avoided, monitoring and early intervention are crucial to preventing the most severe symptoms of the condition.

Manage your condition

Good diabetes management is also vital and has a huge effect on reducing the chances of developing diabetic retinopathy. 

  • Monitor and control your blood sugar: Check this several times a day as recommended by your doctor. 
  • Take medication as directed: Whether this is insulin or oral medication, it’s essential to take this as instructed by your doctor.
  • Control blood pressure and cholesterol: This is best done through a combination of healthy eating, regular exercise, losing any excess weight, and regular blood pressure and cholesterol checks. If necessary, your doctor may prescribe medication to help combat the condition/s.
  • Quit smoking: Not only does tobacco use increase the risk of all diabetic complications, but it’s also detrimental to every other area of health as well.
  • Seek professional advice immediately if you notice any vision changes: If you experience any of the above-mentioned visual symptoms you must contact your eye doctor straight away.

Work With the West Boca Eye Center for the Ultimate in Visual Health

For those with Type I or Type II Diabetes, the importance of regular eye checks can’t be stressed strongly enough. Dr. Brent Bellotte, lead clinician at the West Boca Eye Center is a world-leader in diabetic eye health, working with his patients to ensure their very best control of the condition and resulting visual health.

Don’t leave your eyesight to chance, visit https://westbocaeyecenter.com and schedule your next appointment now.