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Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that can cause vision loss and blindness in people who have diabetes. It affects blood vessels in the retina (the light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of your eye). Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss for.
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Vision loss or blindness may be preventable through early detection and timely treatment. Good control of diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol as well as regular eye examinations may prevent vision loss. It is important to take action before you notice any eye problems. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that damages blood vessels inside the retina at the back of the eye. Regular eye exams will reduce the risk of vision loss and blindness caused by diabetic retinopathy. Laser treatment is used successfully to treat retinopathy.

Types of diabetic retinopathy There are three main types of diabetic retinopathy: Non-proliferative retinopathy is an early form of the disease, where the retinal blood vessels leak fluid or bleed.

Macular oedema is a swelling of the macula, caused by the leakage of fluid from retinal blood vessels. It can damage central vision. Proliferative retinopathy is an advanced form of the disease and occurs when blood vessels in the retina disappear and are replaced by new fragile vessels that bleed easily, and that can result in a sudden loss of vision.

Retinopathy is a high risk for diabetics It is important to understand your risk of diabetic retinopathy. Anyone with diabetes is at risk of developing retinopathy. People with diabetes type 1 and type 2 are 25 times more likely to experience vision loss than people without diabetes. Without treatment, diabetic retinopathy can cause loss of vision and blindness. Unfortunately, only half of the people with diabetes have regular eye exams, and one-third have never been checked. Symptoms There are no early-stage symptoms of diabetic retinopathy and vision loss may not occur until the disease is advanced.

Late-stage diabetic retinopathy symptoms include: Blurred vision Eye strain Headaches. Causes Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease caused by complications of diabetes. Diabetes causes damage to the blood vessels that nourish the retina, the seeing part of the eye. Preventing diabetic retinopathy Strategies for preventing diabetic retinopathy include: Effective diabetes management — including better control of blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol. Good management will help delay the development of retinopathy.

Regular eye examinations — early diagnosis and treatment can usually prevent severe vision loss. It is important to have your eyes tested when diabetes is first diagnosed. Treatment Treatment options include: Manage your diabetes and diabetic retinopathy — your doctor will assist you. Laser treatment — for macular oedema and proliferative retinopathy. The laser treatment seals leaking blood vessels and can be used to reduce growth of new fragile vessels, helping prevent vision loss.

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Diabetic Retinopathy | Cleveland Clinic

Surgery — may be required for severe cases of diabetic retinopathy that do not respond to laser treatment. Where to get help Your family doctor Ophthalmologist eye specialist Optometrist. Things to remember All people with diabetes are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.

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    If you have CSME, you typically are advised to undergo laser photocoagulation. Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy NPDR. This early stage of DR — identified by deposits forming in the retina — can occur at any time after the onset of diabetes. Often no visual symptoms are present, but examination of the retina can reveal tiny dot and blot hemorrhages known as microaneurysms, which are a type of out-pouching of tiny blood vessels. In type 1 diabetes, these early symptoms rarely are present earlier than three to four years after diagnosis.

    In type 2 diabetes, NPDR can be present even upon diagnosis. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy PDR. Of the diabetic eye diseases, proliferative diabetic retinopathy has the greatest risk of visual loss. These abnormal blood vessels formed from neovascularization tend to break and bleed into the vitreous humor of the eye. Besides sudden vision loss, more permanent complications can include tractional retinal detachment and neovascular glaucoma.

    Diabetic Retinopathy

    You should be monitored regularly, but you typically don't require laser treatment for diabetic eye disease until the condition is advanced. Beyond the presence of diabetes, how well your blood sugar is controlled is a major factor determining how likely you are to develop diabetic retinopathy with accompanying vision loss. Uncontrolled high blood pressure hypertension has been associated with eye damage related to diabetes. Also, studies have shown a greater rate of progression of diabetic retinopathy in diabetic women when they become pregnant.

    The American Academy of Ophthalmology AAO notes that all diabetics who have the disease long enough eventually will develop at least some degree of diabetic retinopathy, though less advanced forms of the eye disease may not lead to vision loss. In the United States, minorities appear particularly vulnerable to vision loss caused by diabetic eye disease.

    According to the National Eye Institute NEI , more than 13 percent of African-American adults have been diagnosed with diabetes, and at least , have diabetic retinopathy. NEI expects the number of black Americans with diabetic retinopathy will increase to more than 1 million by and to nearly 2 million by Also, a recent study conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia found that African-Americans with diabetes are among those at highest risk for diabetic retinopathy and have one of the lowest rates of eye care use.

    Hispanics with diabetes also are at higher-than-average risk of developing diabetic retinopathy and vision loss. Results of the NEI-sponsored Los Angeles Latino Eye Study show that 42 percent of Hispanics who have had diabetes for more than 15 years also will develop diabetic retinopathy, compared with 15 percent for all individuals with diabetes of similar duration.

    Native Americans also are at high risk of developing diabetes and related diabetic eye disease. Pima Indians, for example, have a 35 percent prevalence of diabetes compared with 9. You must make every effort through medical intervention and other remedies to address diabetes and diabetic retinopathy before you qualify for special considerations under the Americans with Disabilities Act ADA. A disability basically means that you are substantially limited in the way you function in daily activity. When you are disabled, you are entitled to certain reasonable accommodations at the workplace and at public places such as schools.

    ADA amendments added in further clarify that diabetics in particular have certain protections under the law, such as needed breaks at the workplace for insulin injections or lunches at set times to maintain blood sugar levels. You cannot be fired from your job or denied employment strictly because you are diabetic, as long as you are able to handle the basics of your work tasks.

    How diabetes can affect the eyes

    As an example, the American Diabetes Association says that a person with mild diabetic retinopathy easily might perform daytime tasks but could have difficulty with night vision. In this case, special accommodation such as appropriate lighting might be needed at the workplace. If questions arise, you may need a letter from your physician that advises an employer regarding how well you will be able to perform certain work tasks.

    Any special accommodations you might need, such as extra lighting, also could be explained by your doctor s. State regulations governing disability differ, so you also should check guidelines established by the state in which you reside. If you are visually impaired enough that you cannot work and expect the condition to last at least a year, you may be qualified for Social Security disability benefits. To qualify, you previously must have been in the workforce for a length of time that depends on your age. You can contact your local Social Security representative for details or go online to view specific U.

    Social Security Administration guidelines at www. If you have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes and cannot afford an eye exam, there are programs available to help you obtain the eye care you need. Examples include:. Administered by the Optometry Cares - The AOA Foundation, this program provides free eye exams to uninsured, low-income workers and their families.

    EyeCare America. This public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology provides free eye exams for qualifying seniors. Eligible individuals receive a comprehensive medical eye exam and up to one year of care for any disease diagnosed during the initial exam at no out-of-pocket cost.

    Diabetes and eye disease

    To determine if you or a senior family member or friend qualify for this program, visit the EyeCare America website. Lions Clubs International. This organization provides financial assistance to individuals for eye care through its local clubs. You can find a local Lions Club by using the "club locator" feature on the organization's website. Patients' adherence to recommended follow-up eye care after diabetic retinopathy screening in a publicly funded county clinic and factors associated with follow-up eye care use.

    JAMA Ophthalmology. November New diabetes cases among Americans drop for first time in decades: CDC. Published online in December Annual number in thousands of new cases of diagnosed diabetes among adults aged years, United States, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.