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Diabetic Retinopathy

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 Facts on Diabetic Retinopathy

People with diabetes should have a dilated eye examination at least once a year to check for early signs of diabetic retinopathy, the most common eye disease among people with diabetes.  Diabetic retinopathy occurs when diabetes damages the tiny blood vessels inside the retina, the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.

Who is at risk?

All people with diabetes – both Type I and Type 2

What are the symptoms?

At first, people may have no symptoms or changes in vision. However, diabetic retinopathy can get worse over time and cause vision loss and possible blindness.
·    Blood vessels in the retina swell and leak fluid
·    Fragile, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina and leak
·    Leaking blood and fluid cause vision loss or even blindness

How is diabetic retinopathy detected?

The only way to detect diabetic retinopathy is through a dilated eye examination in which an eye care professional puts drops in the eye to dilate (widen) the pupil to get a better look at the back of the eye.

Can the disease be treated?

Yes! Your eye care provider may refer you to a retinal specialist for laser surgery, in which a high power light beam is aimed onto the retina to shrink or seal the abnormal vessels.  The laser beam effects only the tissue it is focussed on and does not damage other tissue on its way to the back of the eye.  Laser surgery often cannot restore vision that has already been lost, but may prevent further loss.  With early detection and treatment the risk of blindness is reduced by 95 percent.

What is Michigan Eyes on Diabetes?

Michigan Eyes on Diabetes is a collaboration of community agencies and eye care providers dedicated to educating persons with diabetes on the importance of having an annual dilated eye examination.  If you have your own family eye doctor, see them each year for a diabetic dilated eye examination.  If you do not have an eye care provider or if you do not have medical insurance and have no ability to pay for the examination, please contact Michigan Eyes on Diabetes at (313) 872-6011 for a list of participating eye care providers in your area or visit our website at: www.michiganeyesondiabetes.net

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