Understanding Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy is one of the cruelest potential consequences of diabetes: if left untreated, it can lead to loss of sight. By 2030, it could become the leading cause of blindness worldwide. The prevalence of diabetes in the Caribbean is almost fifty percent higher than the global average which will result in more diabetic retinopathy for the region.
As the name of the eye disease implies, diabetic retinopathy occurs when the body’s blood sugar levels are abnormally high, resulting in damage to blood vessels within the retina. These vessels may leak, swell, or even close, preventing blood from traveling through. In some cases, new blood vessels may grow on the retina, causing potential vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs in two primary stages called non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). It’s in the NPDR stage that the blood vessels leak, forcing the retina to swell. When this swelling occurs, it is referred to as macular edema. Macular edema is the most common reason for vision loss in diabetic patients. The blood vessels may also close during NPDR, causing something called macular ischemia.
The PDR stage is more advanced and happens when the retina begins to grow new blood vessels, a process called neovascularization. These vessels are incredibly fragile and may bleed into the vitreous, a jelly-like substance found in the middle of the eye. Even if the bleeding is minimal, there is a possibility of seeing dark floaters. In a more severe case, vision may be blocked entirely.
This information is presented by Retina Macula Specialists of Miami, the largest private retina practice in the city. We are a nationally acclaimed retina practice dedicated to the medical and surgical management of vitreoretinal diseases. Each of our extensively trained doctors is certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and ready to help treat eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy treatment, retinal detachment, age-related macular degeneration, and more. We have three convenient locations in Miami, Coral Gables, and North Miami Beach. For contact information or to request an appointment, please visit https://www.retinamaculamiami.com.