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Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes can lead to a variety of other health problems including vision problems. Over time the high blood sugar levels from Diabetes can damage the retina, a condition called Diabetic Retinopathy. The retina is the located at the back of your eye and is responsible for capturing images and sending them to the brain via nerve signals. Your chances of developing Diabetic Retinopathy depend on how high your blood sugar levels are and how long they have been above the target range. You are also more likely to develop Diabetic Retinopathy if you have high blood pressure, are pregnant, have kidney disease, have high cholesterol, smoke or have a family history of Diabetic Retinopathy.

Diabetic Retinopathy affects the blood vessels in the retina. In its early stages these tiny blood vessels, called capillaries, develop weakened walls and allow red blood cells to escape. When the retina is viewed through an ophthalmoscope this condition can be diagnosed, and appropriate steps can be taken to avoid vision loss.

If this condition is allowed to progress to its later stages then new blood vessels will form to supply blood to the damaged areas of the retina. These new vessels can bleed into the vitreous gel and form scar tissue. This scar tissue can cause the retina to detach from the wall of the eye, causing vision loss.

Though there is no cure for Diabetic Retinopathy, it can be slowed or stopped using laser treatment if it is done before the retina is severely damaged, and can prevent the associated vision loss. If vision loss is already beginning to occur then the vitreous gel can be surgically removed (a process called  a vitrectomy) which can help improve vision if the retina has not been severely damaged.

For more information about Diabetic Retinopathy, or to book an appointment, call Market Mall Optometry today at 403.286.4884 and visit

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