Diabetic retinopathy is a serious eye disease that afflicts thousands of Americans every year. It is one of the leading causes of blindness in adults. It may come on slowly and without warning. At The Retina Group of Washington, our ophthalmology office McLean can test for diabetic retinopathy and treat it before it becomes too advanced.
Vision loss may be one of the first symptoms. Over time, the condition worsens and causes more vision loss. There are four stages to diabetic retinopathy. The first, mild nonproliferative retinopathy, is the early stage and can produce small hemorrhages within the eye. During this stage the patient may not notice any vision loss. During the moderate stage, more hemorrhages begin to emerge and more damage to the blood vessels inside the retina are discovered. This can cause a reduction of blood flow to retinal tissue, causing severe damage and vision loss. By the time the disease reaches advanced stages, vision loss can be severe and may be permanent if not treated in time at our ophthalmology office McLean. Vision loss is caused by leaking fluid, edema or abnormal new blood vessels that are grown due to the retina being damaged.
Those who have diabetes are at risk for diabetic retinopathy. Diabetics should have an annual exam at least once per year, possibly twice depending on their age and the state of their vision. Over time, the risk for diabetic retinopathy increases. The disease is treatable at our ophthalmology office McLean, however. Having annual exams that feature dilation, controlling diet, exercise and blood sugar and staying on top of health exams can help those at risk lessen their chances of getting diabetic retinopathy. Patients should not wait for symptoms and instead should be proactive about their eye health, coming in for exams at least one time a year.