Retinopathy means you have damage to your retina, typically to the small retinal blood vessels. Your retina is light-sensitive tissue in the back of your eye that converts light and images to nerve signals for your brain to decipher.
The most common cause of retinopathy is long-term, poorly controlled diabetes. However, even with good diabetic management, most will have some degree of retinopathy in the long run.
Other health conditions that cause of retinopathy are:
Retinopathy may occur by staring at the sun or viewing a solar eclipse, but it’s usually only temporary.
Retinopathy is divided into nonproliferative or proliferative stages. Non-proliferative retinopathy happens first, which is marked by:
- retinal hemorrhages
- fluid leakage into retina
- blockage of retinal blood vessels
- spotty enlargement of retinal blood vessels
You may notice some problems with your eyesight during this stage.
Proliferative retinopathy is the more advanced form of retina damage, evidenced by the growth of abnormal blood vessels to replace the damaged or blocked ones. And the outcome of this stage can be blindness.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:
Most often, diabetic retinopathy causes no symptoms until major retinal blood vessel damage takes place.
Other eye problems may develop along with your retinopathy, like:
Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy may not require specific retina treatment. However, control of your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol is paramount to prevent further retinal damage.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy usually warrants some form of retina treatment. There are several laser treatments used, such as:
- focal laser photocoagulation ~ treats macular edema
- panretinal photocoagulation ~ shrinks abnormal retina
- vitrectomy ~ clears blood, vitreous, scar tissue, other object from eye
- photocoagulation ~ laser surgery that stops retinal vessel leakage or disposal of abnormal ones
Diabetic retinopathy treatment doesn’t reverse the damage that’s been done, but it can slow progression.
To preserve the health of your eyes have them examined regularly, especially if you have diabetes.