Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is one of the most common causes of vision loss. High blood sugar levels cause damage to the small blood vessels in the retina. Because diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common complications for people diagnosed with diabetes mellitus (DM), it is recommended that diabetics immediately begin comprehensive, dilated eye exams at least once a year, regardless of age at diagnosis. Early stages of DR often have no symptoms, so early detection, intervention and treatment are vital to preventing or slowing the progression of vision loss.
There are two categories of diabetic retinopathy:
• Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR)
• Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR)
NPDR leads to damage to the microscopic blood vessels in the retina, causing leakage of blood or fluid (edema).
PDR is a more progressed stage of DR and is characterized by the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels (neovascularization) on the retina. The abnormal blood vessels often
hemorrhage into the eye and can cause scar tissue on the retina and other complications within the eye.
Diabetic Retinopathy can cause severe vision loss and irreversible damage to the eye if left untreated. The first line of defense against diabetic retinopathy is strict blood sugar control, but treatment at Tennessee Retina for these conditions can include laser, eye injections, or surgery.