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Over 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from diabetes, and over 7 million of those individuals aren't even aware of it. But this dangerous inability to manage blood sugar can do a great deal of damage to the body with or without a diagnosis - including a potentially-blinding disease called diabetic retinopathy. Thankfully, you can spare your eyesight from this progressive eye condition with the aid of our optometry team at Primary Eyecare and Optical of Meridian in Meridian, MS.
As its name suggests, diabetic retinopathy is a disorder of the retina (the light-collecting tissue at the back of the eye) brought on by diabetes. Diabetes may be congenital, but many people acquire the disease later in life. In addition to genetics, diabetes may be caused by obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, hormonal abnormalities, or pancreatic disease/injury. When the pancreas fails to make enough insulin to control the amount of sugar in your blood, that sugar may damage delicate structures such as nerves and blood vessels. In diabetic retinopathy, the eye itself sustain permanent damage from elevated, uncontrolled blood sugar.
Diabetic retinopathy may give you a little warning that your retinal tissues are being damaged, especially during the early stage of the disease. As blood vessels beneath the macula (a part of the retina that controls central vision) become weakened, they may bulge and break, causing macular swelling. You may experience "floaters," blind spots in your vision, or blurry vision. As the disease progresses, the eye hastily manufactures new blood vessels, but these tend to cause even more bleeding in the eye. Untreated diabetic retinopathy can lead to catastrophic vision loss.
Early diagnosis and treatment can make all the difference in preventing diabetic retinopathy from ruining your eyesight. Our Meridian clinic routinely looks for signs of diabetic retinopathy and other retinal diseases during your annual comprehensive eye exam. As soon as the earliest signs become evident, we can make recommendations to help you get the condition under control and minimize further damage.
The most important treatment for diabetic retinopathy is gaining control over diabetes itself, so we will urge you to devise a treatment plan with your doctor. We may also prescribe medications to reduce the swelling and prevent additional blood vessels from forming. You may even receive a referral for laser surgery to seal broken blood vessels.
Don't let yourself fall prey to diabetic retinopathy. Call 601-485-2020 to schedule that all-important comprehensive eye exam!