Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in people with diabetes. Symptoms may include spots or dark strings floating in your vision (floaters), blurred vision, fluctuating vision, impaired color vision, dark or empty areas in your vision and vision loss.
Poor control of your blood sugar affects the blood vessels in the eyes. These weakened blood vessels can cause bleeding within the retina and if bad enough swelling of the retina. This is calledDiabetic Macula Edema.
The weakened blood vessels can also cause poor circulation that can lead to new blood vessel growth. These new blood vessels, called neovascularization are fragile and can break and bleed and cause sudden loss of vision with a Vitreous Hemorrhage. They can also lead to scarring of the retina, and can cause traction of the retina. The retina itself can be pulled off causing a Traction Retinal Detachment.
Prevention of diabetic retinopathy is possible. Yearly eye exams when you have diabetes are very important. With close monitoring prevention of vision loss is possible. The only way to prevent diabetic retinopathy is to control your blood sugar. Following the treatment plan of your internist, watching what you eat, (especially lowering your intake of starchy and sugary foods), losing weight, and exercise can lead to better control of your blood sugar and to prevent loss of vision.
If you do develop diabetic retinopathy, treatments are available that can help. These treatments include lasers, medicines, and surgery. The severity of the problem guides the treatment.