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How Does Diabetic Retinopathy Cause Blindness?

How Does Diabetic Retinopathy Cause Blindness?

Blindness is the general term for significant vision loss, which ranges from being legally blind (possessing low vision, or severely visually impaired) to being able to see nothing at all. Across the world, 36 million people are completely blind and 217 million people identify as visually impaired due to cataracts, macular degeneration, and different types of refractive errors.

Diabetic retinopathy is a disease that damages your vision and can lead to blindness if not treated. To learn more about this disease and its effect on your eyes, let’s define what diabetic retinopathy is, learn how it can make you blind, and what steps we can take to prevent and treat it.

If you live in the Pelham Gardens area of the Bronx, New York, and you’re dealing with diabetic retinopathy or other illnesses that affect your vision, our team of specialists at Bronx Eye Associates can help.

What is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that anyone suffering from diabetes is at risk for. It damages your vision by weakening blood vessels in your retina, the part of your eye that sends the visual signals from your eye to your brain via the optic nerve. 

Many people don’t experience any symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, but common signs in the early stages include floaters, blurred or fluctuating vision, dark or empty areas in your vision, or loss of vision. If you have undiagnosed diabetes, the longer it goes without treatment the more severe the damage to your vision can get.

This illness comes in two forms:

Nonproliferative diabetes-related retinopathy (NPDR)

This is the early stage of diabetic retinopathy when weakened blood vessels leak into your retina in the form of fluid, lipid, or hemorrhage. When these vessels close they cause poor blood flow (ischemia) which can lead to blockage and make the condition worse.

Proliferative diabetes-related retinopathy (PDR)

The ischemia caused by the early form of this disease causes abnormal blood vessels to grow, resulting in leakage into your vitreous (the gel-like substance that fills the center of your eye, also called a vitreous hemorrhage) and can cause retinal detachment and nerve damage.

Complications of PDR like vitreous hemorrhage, glaucoma, retinal detachment, and macular edema can lead to complete blindness. 

What can we do to prevent or treat it?

Basic methods for avoiding this illness and its complications include managing your diabetes, having routine eye exams, quitting smoking, maintaining healthy blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels, and getting regular amounts of moderate exercise. Treating this illness depends on what stage it is in and includes:

Diabetic retinopathy can damage your eyes or leave you blind if not treated, but help is available. Make an appointment with the team at Bronx Eye Associates today to get this illness or other eye problems under control.

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