What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a serious eye condition that affects people with every type of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes (commonly known as juvenile diabetes), type 2 (diabetes mellitus), and gestational diabetes (diabetes developed during pregnancy), can all carry the additional diagnosis of DR. Occurrences of DR in pregnant women take place if the women had diabetes before pregnancy. DR in patients with type 2 diabetes has grown to the point of being considered an epidemic in recent years. DR in type 1 patients is growing but not to such an extent so far.
Diabetic retinopathy affects the blood vessels in a patient’s eyes and can cause bleeding or other fluid to leak. Vision problems are not always noticeable in the early stages of DR. That is one reason it is so important for people with diabetes to have regular eye checkups. DR can cause minor vision loss to complete blindness if not caught early.
Diabetic Retinopathy Symptoms
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy can differ from one person to another, but some symptoms are more common than others. Trouble reading is a symptom that could be related to something else, and many patients don’t realize it is due to their DR. Driving might become more difficult, and again, this could be due to other issues. Fear of not being able to drive anymore might keep some people from seeking help in that regard.
Other symptoms of DR could include more dark areas or floaters than usual or more frequent blurry vision. Any problem with vision can be dealt with more effectively the sooner it is reported to a doctor.
Monitoring a patient’s eyes can sometimes be the only treatment if they are only having mild symptoms or if it is very early in the disease. The ultimate goal is for the patient to keep their vision, and often preventing any new problems is the best form of treatment. Some of the treatments for patients with DR might not seem to be eye-related, but the treatment will be aimed at improving the patient’s quality of life. Therapy for activities of daily living (ADLs) is helpful to many people living with DR.
Maintaining the best health possible is especially important for people with diabetes due to the other health problems that come as a result. Some risk factors for diabetes and diabetic retinopathy are genetic, but some can be improved with discipline and work. DR is more prevalent in Black, Native American, and Hispanic patients. The length of time that a person has diabetes affects their chances of developing DR.
One of the ways that a patient can consciously work to keep DR at bay is to eat healthy to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and keep blood sugar at a healthy level, three of the controllable risk factors for DR.
How We Can Help
Therapy Achievements can help you through your DR journey with a variety of innovative programs, including driving rehab and low vision services. Our compassionate therapists assist patients to find ways to manage their DR and maintain a fulfilling life. Call us today to find out how we can help.