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Diabetic Retinopathy: What Is It?

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Diabetic retinopathy refers to several eye problems that are characterized by damage to the light-sensitive retina, caused by excessive blood sugar levels. Almost half of Americans with diabetes suffer from some level of diabetic retinopathy. When glucose levels in the blood are not properly controlled, it can result in the formation of glaucoma, cataracts or blood vessel damage in the retina — all of which can cause vision loss if not diagnosed and treated early.

Damage to the blood vessels in the retina can eventually lead to permanent vision loss. High blood sugar levels can lead to the blood vessels in the retina swelling and leaking. This leaked blood in the eye damages vision. In severe instances, the retina can thicken and crack, causing new blood vessels to grow under the retina and through those cracks, which severely affects visual acuity.

Symptoms

For many people, the earliest stages of diabetic retinopathy do not have any easily noticeable symptoms. By the time vision loss is prominent enough to be noticed, most individuals have progressed to advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy that are harder to treat and manage.

Thankfully, regular eye examinations can help monitor the eyes for many of the common initial warning signs of diabetic retinopathy, including the following:

  • Floaters or spots roaming around in your field of vision
  • Poor night vision
  • An empty or dark spot in the middle of your field of vision
  • Blurred vision

Treatment

Treatment of diabetic retinopathy depends on the stage and severity of the condition. Through regular eye examinations and pupil dilation, diabetic retinopathy can be monitored closely to ensure accurate treatment. Keeping blood sugar levels within recommended ranges can also help manage or slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy.

In more severe cases, treatment also includes:

  • Laser surgery to repair retinal detachment
  • Intravitreal injections of medications into the jelly-like vitreous, near the retina, to stop the proliferation of blood vessels and halt further retinal damage
  • Laser photocoagulation (to close leaking blood vessels in the retina)

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Testimonials

Reviews From Our Satisfied Patients

  • "Dr. Michael Houseman took great care of my 92-year-old father, who can't hear very well at all, and who gets confused easily. He was very patient and kind, and spent extra time giving him the best prescription possible. When we went to get glasses, they were able to cut the lenses in house, very affordably."
    Mark Berg
  • "Great service! Dr Gertsberger is wonderful. He takes care of my whole family and we have all been pleased with our eye care."
    SylnJoey R. Garden City, KS
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    Samantha Roecker
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  • "What fan can I say? If you need prompt, professional eye care, Garden City Optometrists is where you need to go for the best eye care in Southwest Kansas...they'll keep an eye out for you. (:-) Art Gomez, Scott City, Kansas"
    Art Gomez
  • "This place has been in operation for more than 100 years, so they must be doing something right. That "something" is prompt, professional service. I've never had to wait long for an appointment or to be seen once I arrive at the office. The staff knows what they're doing, and I've never walked away unhappy."
    Ashley F
  • "I was shopping for my third set of glasses from Garden City Optometrists. The entire staff got in on the experience, showing me frames that they thought would work well for me. We didn't find exactly what I was looking for, so they ordered some more examples. I've had nothing but great experiences with all of the doctors and staff here. See you guys in a few days for my new frames!"
    Sean Collins

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