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What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic Retinopathy is a condition caused by diabetes where high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels throughout the body, including the fine vessels of the retina. This condition can lead to vision loss or impairment if not treated. There are two types; Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR) and Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR).

If you think you may have Diabetic Retinopathy, or want to get examined for a final verdict, the health care professionals at the Eye and Lasik Center are here to help. To schedule an appointment, give us a call at 1-800-676-5050. You can also call us for more information, treatment options, and any other questions you may have. Our doctors are here to help!

What Is The Retina, and How Does Diabetic Retinopathy Affect it?

The retina is located in each eye, and is the tissue in the back of the eye that allows your brain to process everything you see. Your retina is responsible for processing images, lights, and colors. It converts these rays of light into electrical impulses that are then sent to your brain and processed.

Diabetic Retinopathy causes damage to the retinal vessels of the eye. This damage can lead to a number of different vision and eye problems. It can lead to blindness, improper eye muscle function, impair your peripheral vision, and cause your pupils to be extra sensitive to light.

What Are the Types of Diabetic Retinopathy?

There are two types of Diabetic Retinopathy. Knowing both of them, their signs, their differences, and what can cause them to develop and occur in your eyes are important.

Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR)

Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR) is an early stage, milder form of eye disease which usually does not affect vision. This condition occurs when the retinal blood vessels begin to leak allowing blood to seep into the retina. This can cause the retina to swell and function improperly. Treatment is available through the use of a laser to seal the blood vessels and prevent further vision loss.

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR)

Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR), on the other hand, represents more advanced disease and can cause severe loss of central and peripheral vision. This condition occurs when the retinal blood vessels close, restricting the nutrients to the retinal tissue. This growth of new abnormal blood vessels can create scar tissue which can result in blindness if not treated.

Can Diabetic Retinopathy Go Away On Its Own?

While Diabetic Retinopathy isn’t completely reversible, certain treatments and lifestyle changes can actually help restore some of your vision, and reduce the negative effects brought on by this condition. These improvements can also help prevent this condition from worsening further, which can help improve your quality of life.

Taking your prescribed medicine regularly and following doctors orders can help lower your blood pressure and stop vision loss. The goal is to control your sugar level intake as too much sugar worsens the condition. Good sugar control can actually help restore your vision by lessening the effect of the condition too. Steroid medicine injections, laser surgery, and a vitrectomy can also help slow vision loss.

What Can I Expect During Treatment?

Strict control of blood-sugar levels can prevent or delay the onset of vision problems. Those who develop vision-threatening complications such as macular edema (swelling), PDR, and neovascular glaucoma can be treated with laser surgery. Some patients may need multiple laser treatments over time.

In advanced PDR, our retinal specialists may recommend a vitrectomy. Vitrectomy is the removal of abnormal gel in the back part of the eye to control abnormal blood vessels. The earlier this surgery is performed, the better the chances of saving your vision or preventing more serious vision loss.

Do Eye Drops Help with Diabetic Retinopathy?

Eye drops that contain neuroprotective agents have been known to treat diabetic retinopathy successfully over time. Typically applied twice a day, these eye drops made specifically for diabetic retinopathy can help slow down the neurodegeneration of the retina or the progression of diabetic blindness. In more serious cases, however, eye drops may not be enough to restore improved vision to your eyes. Instead, a treatment like LASIK may be needed.

What Level Does Blood Sugar Affect My Vision?

In general, high blood sugar causes the body to swell. In the case of vision, high blood sugar will cause the lens of the eyes to swell up, which ultimately affects your vision. This can lead to blurring, double vision, and even blindness in people with diabetes. If your blood sugar level falls below 70mg/dL, diabetic patients may begin to experience blurry vision and other visual impairments. To prevent this from happening, many diabetic patients have turned to watching their food intake, as maintaining their blood sugar levels in the target range is essential. High blood sugar can not only affect your vision but it can also lead to problems with brain function.

Are There Any Foods That Stop The Progression of Diabetic Retinopathy?

Just like maintaining your blood sugar, there are certain foods that can improve the health of the eyes and slow the progression of the effects of diabetic retinopathy. These foods can include fish, Omega-3 fatty acids, and fruits.

Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, fish is a healthy choice of protein when it comes to taking care of your vision. For this same reason, fish oil supplements are recommended before and after eye surgeries such as LASIK. Some of the best types of fish to eat to prevent diabetic retinopathy are:

  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Swordfish
  • Sardines
  • Trout
  • Kippers
  • Eels
  • Whitebait
  • Herring

Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in more than just fish. These unsaturated fats have proven to help diabetic patients maintain their weight and control blood sugar, as they reduce triglyceride levels. The following foods are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseed
  • Walnuts
  • Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Soy (soy milk, tofu, soybeans)

Many fruits contain antioxidants that protect parts of the eye. Without added sugars, these fruits can help balance your diet and prevent worsening progression of diabetic retinopathy:

  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Berries
  • Honeydew
  • Mangoes
  • Prunes
  • Kiwis

The Most Common Misconceptions of Diabetic Retinopathy

There are many medical conditions that have myths and misconceptions, and diabetic retinopathy is not exempt from them. The first misconception regarding diabetic retinopathy is how only one type of diabetes causes it. This is not true, as both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can cause diabetic retinopathy.

The next misconception about diabetic retinopathy is that it can be treated in a single procedure, similar to how cataracts can be removed. This is untrue; the eye damage caused by diabetic retinopathy usually requires multiple eye injections and possibly laser treatment to prevent future vision loss.

What To Expect From Your Visit With a Massachusetts Ophthalmologist

When you visit us at the Longwood Eye & LASIK Center, you will meet with an eye doctor to discuss your diabetic retinopathy symptoms. This will help us develop the best diabetic retinopathy treatment for you. This is done after considering factors such as the stages of diabetic retinopathy a patient has experienced, the extent of their eye damage, and their current degree of vision loss.

When you meet with one of our eye doctors in Gardener, Greenfield, West Springfield, or Fitchburg, MA, you can expect compassionate, personalized care that tailors your treatment to your preferences and needs.

After examining your eyes and performing some vision tests, your ophthalmologist will recommend a treatment plan to treat or prevent diabetic retinopathy from progressing.

Get the Best Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment in Massachusetts

Our dedicated team is here to help you prevent vision loss and live confidently with diabetes. Our personalized services use state-of-the-art technology and the most innovative treatments to ensure every patient has access to the exceptional quality of care they deserve.

Whether you have just been diagnosed and are planning for the future or want to address symptoms impacting your vision, we are here for you.

Schedule a Consultation Today!

The healthcare professionals at the Eye and Lasik Center are dedicated to helping you reclaim your best life and give you the treatment you deserve. With state-of-the-art technology and equipment, we strive to provide you with the best service, care, and results possible!

To learn more about diabetic retinopathy treatment and diabetic eye care, contact our office today! Click here or call 1-855-286-2020 to schedule an appointment with one of our eye care specialists. We have multiple locations for your convenience, located in Gardener, Greenfield, West Springfield, and Fitchburg MA. Our team looks forward to helping you begin your journey to a healthier and happier you!


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