Most diabetic retinopathy symptoms don’t show up until the more advanced stages, and by then, the damage is most likely permanent. In mostcases, a person will have diabetic retinopathy and never even know it. But as the condition progresses you will start to notice something isn’t right with your vision.
If you have diabetes, even if it is under control, you should consult a physician if you have any of the diabetic retinopathy symptoms. It is important to keep your diabetes under control to avoid any vision loss in the future. Even if you don’t have any symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, you should see your physician regularly to have your eyes checked and make sure you’re not in the early stages of retinopathy.
Typically, too much sugar in the blood can lead to damage in the tiny blood vessels that supply nutrition (and oxygen) to the ocular tissues. As the blood vessels become more blocked, they are susceptible to leaking blood — which leads to retinopathy and potential blindness. Elevated blood sugar in general can damage your eye’s lenses; which is why it is important to maintain proper eye health.
If you are suffering from low vision because of diabetic retinopathy, there are still ways to cope with everyday life and help manage your vision loss. Ask your physician about any support groups for sufferers of low vision or those who have limited vision after diabetic retinopathy. Also, make sure you keep an eye on your diabetes, because as it continues, you could suffer more advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy too.
Technology, especially smartphone and tablet technology, has come a long way. If you have diabetic retinopathy, there are apps out there that will help you see, function and even communicate with others. Depending on your level of low vision, you may need apps that offer braille features. If, however, you can still somewhat read and write, you might just need a magnifying app. Apps like EyeSight help you see better by replacing magnifiers. There are six color-contrast screens too, so you can always see regardless of the media you are looking at.
You can get EyeSight and other low vision apps from Low Vision Technologies. Our apps are discounted so you can get these premium iPhone and iPad apps for less than the Apple Store.
Your doctor will test your retina for signs of any of the following:
A comprehensive exam should include three main parts:
Visual acuity test - Testing of how well you can see at different distances through the use of an eye chart.
Dilated eye exam - Your pupils are dilated through the use of drops so it's easier for your doctor to see inside the eye and examine your retina and optic nerve.
Tonometry - This will measure the amount of pressure within your eye.
First of all, be sure to work with your endocrinologist (diabetes doctor) in order to see if your diabetes management needs any adjustment. Proper control of your blood sugar is quite helpful at slowing down the progression of this disease when it’s in the early or moderate stages.
If you’re in the more advanced stage of proliferative diabetic retinopathy, then surgery is normally done.
Focal laser treatment can slow down the blood and fluid leakage on your eye. Scatter laser treatment is done to help shrink down the size of the abnormal blood vessels.
Finally, vitrectomy is done to take blood away from vitreous (middle of eye) and also help remove scar tissue pulling along the retina.
Remember that surgery isn’t a cure, but simply a way to try and slow down the progressive nature of your condition.
While alternative therapies aren’t a cure either, it’s been shown that the following do have some benefit against diabetic retinopathy:
I also suffer from low vision, resulting not from diabetes, but from a rare form of macular degeneration called Angioid streaks. I’ve known what it’s like to live with low vision for over 25 years and feel I can offer you hope.
Understand that it’s normal to feel scared, worried, angry and even depressed when you first experience low vision. However, it doesn’t mean you need to lose your quality of life or independence.
On the contrary, there are many new technologies that make living with our condition far easier. If you’d like to learn about this, I encourage you to fill out the form below and I’ll send you full details.