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Early Stage Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy   

May 12, 2022

As many as one in 10 Americans have diabetes. Only one out of every five knows they have it. Even more startling is more than two in five people with diabetes have diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes not only wreaks havoc on your body’s systems but it can also harm your vision. 

As with any chronic condition, being able to spot early-stage symptoms can go a long way toward preventing diabetes from damaging your sight. Read on as a South San Jose CA optometrist discusses diabetic retinopathy, signs to watch for, and what to do if you’re experiencing early-stage symptoms. 

Diabetes – Its Effects on Your Eyes

With diabetes, the body’s inability to convert sugar into energy causes your blood sugar levels to run high. High blood sugar levels account for the damage this condition can do to your body and your eyes. 

The retina can undergo considerable damage when sugar levels go unchecked. This is the part of the eye that converts light into the electrical signals your brain uses to create the images you see. 

When blood sugar levels run high, the tissues that surround the eye become inflamed. This, in turn, impedes blood flow to your retina. When this happens, the retina can’t function as it should. These conditions cause diabetic retinopathy to develop.

Here are a few other effects diabetes can have on your eye health:

  • Damage to the blood vessels in the eyes
  • Fluid accumulation in the tissues around the eyes
  • Changes to the shape and curve of the eye’s lens, a structure that helps focus incoming light and images

Early Stage Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy develop as the effects of limited blood flow start to affect your retina. For this reason, early-stage symptoms may be subtle and come on gradually. Here are a few to watch for:

  • Color blindness  
  • Blurry vision
  • Eye floaters
  • Blind spots
  • Loss of peripheral or side vision
  • Diminishing night vision

The risk of developing diabetic retinopathy increases if one or more of the following conditions applies to you:

  • Smoke cigarettes
  • High blood pressure levels
  • Pregnancy
  • Have had diabetes for a long time
  • Uncontrolled sugar levels
  • High cholesterol levels

Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment

If you have diabetes or you’re experiencing early-stage symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, the sooner you can get in to see an optometrist the better. An optometrist can conduct a comprehensive eye exam, which enables him or her to view the back of the eye as well as the blood vessels in the eyes. And even if signs of damage are present, an optometrist can put together a treatment plan that addresses any existing eye problems and also provide guidance on how to manage the effects of high blood sugar.

If you have more questions or wish to schedule an eye exam, please don’t hesitate to call our South San Jose, CA optometry office today.