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Dry Macular Degeneration
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that results from damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (retina).

At first, diabetic retinopathy may cause no symptoms or only mild vision problems.

The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to develop diabetic retinopathy.

Eventually, however, diabetic retinopathy can result in blindness.

Despite these intimidating statistics, research indicates that at least 90% of these new cases could be reduced if there was proper and vigilant treatment and monitoring of the eyes.
Signs and symptoms
  • Spots floating in your vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Dark streaks or a red film that blocks your vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Vision loss
Dry Macular Degeneration
Diabetic retinopathy is usually classified as early or advanced. 
Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) is the most common type of diabetic retinopathy. It can be described as mild, moderate or severe. When you have NPDR, the walls of the blood vessels in your retina weaken. Tiny bulges protrude from the vessel walls, sometimes leaking or oozing fluid and blood into the retina. 

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) is the most severe type of diabetic retinopathy. When you have PDR, abnormal blood vessels grow in the retina. Sometimes the new blood vessels grow or leak into the clear, jelly-like substance that fills the center of your eye (vitreous). 
Risk factors
Diabetic retinopathy can happen to anyone who has diabetes.

The risk is highest if you:
  • Have poor control of your blood sugar level
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high cholesterol
  • Are pregnant
  • Smoke

When to seek medical advice
Early detection of diabetic retinopathy is the best way to prevent vision loss. If you have diabetes, see your eye doctor for a yearly dilated eye exam — even if your vision seems fine. 

Contact your eye doctor right away if you experience sudden vision changes or your vision becomes blurry, spotty or hazy. 
Screening and diagnosis
Diabetic retinopathy is best diagnosed with a dilated eye exam. During the exam, your eye doctor will look for:
  • Abnormal blood vessels
  • Swelling, blood or fatty deposits in the retina
  • Damage to the nerve tissue
  • Growth of new blood vessels and scar tissue
  • Bleeding in the clear, jelly-like substance that fills the center of the eye vitreous)
  • Retinal detachment

Treatment for diabetic retinopathy depends on the type of diabetic retinopathy.
Focal laser treatment. This laser treatment, also known as photocoagulation, can stop the leakage of blood and fluid in the eye. 
Dry Macular Degeneration
Scatter laser treatment. This laser treatment, also known as panretinal photocoagulation, can shrink the abnormal blood vessels. 

Vitrectomy. This procedure can be used to remove blood from the center of the eye (vitreous) and scar tissue that's tugging on the retina. Surgery often slows or stops the progression of diabetic retinopathy, but it's not a cure. Because diabetes is a lifelong condition, future retinal damage and vision loss is possible. Even after treatment for diabetic retinopathy, you'll need regular eye exams. At some point, additional treatment may be recommended. 

Researchers are studying new treatments for diabetic retinopathy, including medications that may help prevent abnormal blood vessels from forming in the eye. 
The longer you have diabetes, the greater your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy — but there's much you can do to promote healthy vision.
  • Make a commitment to managing your diabetes. Make healthy eating and physical activity part of your daily routine. Take oral diabetes medications or insulin as directed.
  • Monitor your blood sugar level. You may need to check and record your blood sugar level at least several times a day — or more if you're ill or under stress. Careful monitoring is the only way to make sure that your blood sugar level remains within your target range.
  • Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control. High blood pressure and high cholesterol increase the risk of vision loss. Eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and losing excess weight can help. Sometimes medication is needed, too.
  • Quit smoking Smoking increases your risk of various diabetes complications, including diabetic retinopathy.
  • Take stress seriously. If you're stressed, it's easy to abandon your usual diabetes management routine. The hormones your body may produce in response to prolonged stress may prevent insulin from working properly, which only makes matters worse. To take control, set limits. Prioritize your tasks. Learn relaxation techniques. Get plenty of sleep.
  • Pay attention to vision changes. Yearly dilated eye exams are an important part of your diabetes treatment plan. Contact your eye doctor right away if you experience sudden vision changes or your vision becomes blurry, spotty or hazy.
Remember, diabetes doesn't necessarily doom you to poor vision. Taking an active role in diabetes management can go a long way toward preventing complications.
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