Diabetic Retinopathy is simple a complex phrase that means “eye problems due to diabetes.” It is a complication that stems from the damage that diabetes does to the blood vessels that line the retina – the organ that is sensitive to light – at the back of the eye. You may not even know you have diabetic retinopathy at first because there are often no symptoms in the early stages. Even when it does cause mild symptoms, people often do not make the connection and do not get their eyes checked. That’s why you need to see your doctor at the first sign of eye problems, and this goes double if you have or are at risk for diabetes.
It doesn’t matter whether you have Type I or Type II Diabetes. Both types can cause retinopathy. The longer you have the disease, the more the chances that you’ll develop diabetic retinopathy. In addition, when your blood sugar isn’t tightly controlled, you increase your chances of getting it.
This complication is directly caused by the amount of sugar in your blood, specifically when you have high blood sugar. The blockages cause the retina to become malnourished because it isn’t getting enough blood, and this causes the eye to suffer damage, as well as try to create new blood vessels to combat the problem. Of course, these don’t get enough blood either and don’t develop correctly. This means that they can easily leak.
Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR)
There are two symptom classifications of diabetic retinopathy. The first is called NPDR, which stands for Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy. An easier name to remember is ‘Early Diabetic Retinopathy.’ The symptoms of NPDR are listed below, but it is important to remember that often, there are no symptoms at all associated with the early stages of this disease.
As the disease progresses, these symptoms will become more pronounced. However, at this stage of the disease, the eyes are not yet “proliferating.” In other words, they aren’t yet creating new blood vessels. That comes in the second stage of the disease.
The first retinopathy symptom that we’re going to discuss is commonly called “floaters.” Floaters are small objects that get into the eye and obstruct your vision.
They are caused by the death of blood vessels, including the formation of new ones that are not built correctly and have small bulges called microaneurysms that leak. This leakage is usually what causes the floaters.