Diabetic Retinopathy Signs & Symptoms

December 8, 2013

Image of Retina

As any diabetic patient knows, having diabetes can lead to vision problems. Ongoing high glucose levels in the blood can damage the blood vessels in the eye, leading to a serious condition called diabetic retinopathy, which is a disease of the retina. The retina  is the nerve layer that lines the back of your eye. It is the part of your eye that "takes pictures" and sends the images to your brain.

Diabetic retinopathy affects almost 90% of people who have been diabetic for at least 20 years. It can cause poor vision and even blindness.

In a study of 158 people who have had type 1 diabetes for 50 years or more, a high proportion had little to no diabetic eye disease over time, and researchers theorize that biological or genetic protective factors may be the reason. They believe that pinning down these factors may help other diabetics avoid such eye diseases or have milder forms of them.

What are the symptoms?

Most of the time, there are no symptoms of diabetic retinopathy until it starts to change your vision. When this happens, diabetic retinopathy is already severe. Having your eyes checked regularly can find diabetic retinopathy early enough to treat it and help prevent vision loss.

"Diabetics should have annual eye exams to reduce the risk of vision loss associated with fluctuating blood sugar." according to Dr. Jeffrey Gold of Liberty Vision in Hamden Connecticut.

If you notice problems with your vision, call an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) right away. Changes in vision can be a sign of severe damage to your eye. These changes can include floaters, pain in the eye, blurry vision, or new vision loss.