WHO DOES DIABETIC RETINOPATHY AFFECT?
Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in people 20 to 74 years of age in the United States. DR is the most common diabetic eye disease and can lead to vision loss—but early detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up care may help reduce the severity of the disease.
Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) is a complication of DR, and can lead to further vision problems.
HOW CAN DR AFFECT MY EYES?
DR happens when too much blood sugar (glucose) damages the blood vessels in the retina. As a result:
- The retina does not get enough oxygen and nutrients
- Blood vessels can leak blood into the retina
Throughout the early stages of Diabetic Retinopathy, existing blood vessels in the eye can become swollen and blocked, and leak blood and fluid into the retina—though there may be no visual symptoms.
Diabetic Retinopathy can get worse over time, particularly if it's not managed. In the moderate stages, the bleeding continues and visual symptoms may begin to appear.
If Diabetic Retinopathy progresses into its most advanced stage (proliferative), an increased growth of new blood vessels occurs. These new blood vessels are fragile and easily damaged—which adds to the swelling and leaking.
DME is a complication of DR, and occurs if the macula, the area of the retina at the back of the eye responsible for sharp central vision, swells with fluid leaked from those damaged blood vessels. You can learn more about DME here.
With DR, you may not experience any symptoms at first. But as the disease progresses, it can affect both central vision and peripheral (side) vision—causing symptoms like blurriness or floating spots in your vision (floaters).
It’s important to remember that even if no symptoms are present, early detection and timely treatment can go a long way to reduce the severity of DR. Learn more about the stages of DR and how EYLEA may be able to help.