What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

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Foot complications are a common and debilitating effect of diabetes. Our patients with diabetes here at Affiliated Foot & Ankle Center know that daily foot checks and annual foot exams at one of our Monmouth County podiatry offices are essential parts of their diabetic care.

Since November is Diabetes Awareness Month, we thought we’d take a moment to raise awareness about a body part people don’t normally associate with diabetic complications. It’s located much further up the body than your feet. We’re referring to your eyes. Interestingly, the reason that those with diabetes have foot problems is exactly the same reason why they eventually develop eye problems.

What’s the common factor? Blood vessel damage.

How do blood vessels get damaged?

Blood vessels become damaged by high blood glucose levels. Scientists aren’t exactly sure why it happens. But damaged vessels don’t carry blood very efficiently. So if enough blood vessels leading to the feet are compromised, wounds don’t heal and infections are common. If enough blood vessels to the eyes are compromised, you’ve got diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic eye complications

Diabetic retinopathy is the term for complications of the back wall of the eye called the retina. Damaged blood vessels:

  • prevent adequate blood flow to the retina, starving it of essential nutrients and causing the growth of smaller vessels that bleed or form scar tissue that interferes with vision

  • can leak and cause the retina to swell

  • can eventually cause the retina to detach from the back wall of the eye.

Other complications of uncontrolled blood sugar to the eye include blurry vision, glaucoma, and swelling of the lens. If left untreated, diabetic eye complications can eventually lead to blindness.

Get regular eye exams

In its early stages, diabetic retinopathy may have no symptoms at all. So our board-certified physicians Dr. Samantha Boyd, Dr. Hal Ornstein, Dr. Dan Phan, and Dr. Joseph Saka encourage each of our patients with diabetes to get regular eye exams in order to catch problems early. It’s no different for your feet! Get regular foot exams at our Howell or Jackson podiatry offices. Make an appointment online or call us at (732) 905-1110.