Can You Reverse Diabetic Retinopathy? 7 Expert Tips

Last Updated on June 15, 2023 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD

With the diagnosis of diabetes, you might start seeing various symptoms that may arouse several discomforts in the body. Diabetes is a very frequently seen disorder in adults all over the world.

But what is more concerning than the imbalanced blood sugar levels are the nerve problems accompanying the blood sugar issues. They are common occurrences that people face.

Although diabetes is a growing condition, it is not inevitable. On the brighter side, you can even get hold of your blood sugar levels and make sure that you also keep your nerve problems under control.

Today, let us have a look at diabetic retinopathy. It is a very evident problem among blood sugar patients. Let us dive into learning more about…

Veggie causing Diabetes
  • Can you reverse diabetic retinopathy?
  • What is the first stage of diabetic retinopathy?
  • How long does it take to go blind from diabetic retinopathy?
  • How can you tell if diabetes is affecting your eyes?
  • 7 tips for preventing diabetic retinopathy

Retinopathy is a critical issue to be considered, as the eyes are fragile parts of the body. It can get very complicated if not identified and stopped at the correct times.

Hence, we are here to inform and guide you along these lines. So, let us already delve into learning more about this important side effect of diabetes.

Can you reverse diabetic retinopathy?

Well, this question might pop up immediately in the minds of any diabetic patient when they learn about having diabetic retinopathy. But the good news is that Diabetic retinopathy is controllable.

It can be treated and prevented with all the proper measures and healthcare techniques for blood sugar management. When detected and treated at the right moment, the vision loss can be stopped, and the vision can be preserved at the stage it is.

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This is not a permanent condition but needs to be treated rightly at the correct times to prevent any severing of the eyes and vision.

But let us try to understand what diabetic retinopathy is in the first place.

Diabetes is a blood sugar condition caused by disturbances in the regular production of insulin in the body. This is also a cause of many other related diseases in the body.

One of the common conditions is diabetic retinopathy. Both types of diabetes can be the reasons for diabetic retinopathy in the patients.

The varying blood sugar levels in the body lead to a symptom of blurred vision. This is a sign of early diabetes and that your prevailing blood sugar conditions are out of control and need more care and maintenance.

The primary cause of this blurred and unclear vision is that the blood vessels that carry and supply blood to various parts of the body are affected due to uncontrolled blood sugar levels. This is what nerve damage in diabetes refers to.

Diabetic retinopathy is when the blood vessels circulating blood to the eye’s retina are inefficient and lead to ineffective organ functioning. The blood vessels either swell or leak due to high blood sugar levels causing improper overall functioning.

This condition, if left neglected, can prove to be very dangerous. In extreme cases, blindness may be a result of untreated diabetic retinopathy.

What is the first stage of diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic patients may suffer mild blurriness in vision and can complete blindness if the eyes are not taken care of and the blood sugar levels are not checked.

As diabetes type 1 or type 2 patients, you may experience diabetic retinopathy. This is usually undetectable in the first stages and often causes no severe complications. But with time, the symptoms start showing up.

Some of the early noted symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:

  • Blurred and hazy vision
  • Floaters – dark string-like substances or spots floating in your vision
  • Incorrect perception of colors
  • Fluctuating vision
  • Empty or dark areas in the vision

These symptoms later get more prominent and lead you toward partial vision loss. It is important to acknowledge these signs from the beginning and refer to your doctors for early diagnosis.

The diabetic blood sugar levels slowly begin to affect the eyes and their surrounding cells, giving rise to retinopathy.

The high amounts of sugar in the blood cause blockages in the blood vessels preventing proper circulation. This results in insufficient blood supply to the eye.

To overcome this insufficiency, new blood vessels begin to develop to fulfill the lack of blood flow to the retina. But this development of new vessels does not happen completely well.

The new blood vessels are weak and also lead to leakage of blood, causing redness and pain. This is the reason why the eye is unable to function properly. It all ultimately results in blurred vision with added complications and risks.

How long does it take to go blind from diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a constantly growing condition but is slow enough to be identified and corrected at the right times. Blindness from diabetic retinopathy is a very long process.

It may take several years for the eyes to lose their vision abilities completely. This symptom of diabetes must be controlled at its first stages to ensure that the eyes are safe and out of risk.

Although diabetic retinopathy is a slowly advancing symptom, it must be screened and checked to ensure that your vision issues are caused by diabetes and not due to some other reasons.

However, diabetic retinopathy hardly affects the eyes in the first few months in the primary stages. The symptoms start showing up slowly as very slight complications.

Eye checkups must be regularly conducted with other diabetic tests as well. With eye screening tests, your eye issues can be detected at their early stages and stopped there.

If left untreated and ignored, eye health can keep deteriorating over time and even lead to permanent blindness.

Fortunately, many advanced treatments and therapies can help preserve vision abilities. These, when administered in the early stages, can be the most helpful and can prevent any further deterioration of the eyes.

Some of the commonly used therapies are:

  • Laser eye therapy
  • Eye injections
  • Surgeries that correct the ineffective blood vessels
  • Medications

And so on.

Once out of hand, the vision cannot be restored. Hence, it is best to have a regular checkup and take steps accordingly.

How can you tell if diabetes is affecting your eyes?

As we discussed previously, in the very primary stages, it is hard to tell if diabetes has any effect on the eyes. At the same time, if your blood sugar levels are controlled and do not reach extreme spikes, it does not have any complex impacts on the eyes.

However, with prolonged uncontrolled blood sugar levels, the capacity of the eyes can be reduced. You may start experiencing early signs of discomfort that can worsen over time if not taken care of.

Diabetes can eventually affect your eyes and cause the following symptoms such as –

  • Blurry vision
  • Headaches due to eye strain
  • Eye fatigue
  • Pain and redness
  • Spots and emptiness in vision
  • Color misconceptions
  • String-like floaters in the vision field

And so on.

Diabetic retinopathy can be of the following types:

  • Proliferative diabetic retinopathy

This is the condition where the new blood vessels develop around the eyes. They are weak and may leak and rupture, leading to blood in the eyes, making them red. This is a sign of internal bleeding.

  • Background retinopathy

In this early stage of diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels around the eyes develop small round swells called ‘blebs.’ These may have been deposited and may be minimally effective. Nevertheless, this is one of the first signs of diabetic retinopathy recognition.

  • Maculopathy

This condition develops and deepens with the heightening of background retinopathy. This leads to spotted blindness and may develop into severe blind spots if not detected and treated at the right time.

7 tips for preventing diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is, although usually not reversible but is treatable. The first steps must be started from early detection of this condition of vision to prevent extreme discomfort and serious complications.

These are some steps that you can induce to ensure the prevention of diabetic retinopathy:

  1. The very first way to be cautious is to take control of your diabetic blood sugar levels. Be sure to carry out frequent checks and engage in proper medications as well.
  2. Alongside keeping the diabetic levels under control, you also have to maintain your blood pressure and body cholesterol levels. These are often affected by the fluctuating blood sugars of the body and need to be kept steady to ensure stronger eye health.
  3. Also, make sure to include fats and salts in your diets in controlled amounts. They are often the causes of uncontrolled blood pressure and sugars.
  4. If you are habitual to smoking or tobacco, it is best to quit it for your diabetic health management and lesser eye risks.
  5. Alcohol is also to be restricted and checked.
  6. Stay away from excess eye-straining tasks and reduce your screen time as much as possible. Try to get enough sleep to rest your eyes.
  7. Perform everyday exercises to keep the body active and control your diabetic health situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

References

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  4. https://bjo.bmj.com/content/65/5/307.short
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  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0014299918305673
  7. https://europepmc.org/article/med/7188047
  8. https://iovs.arvojournals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2577427
  9. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1440-1681.2007.04698.x

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