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Do you know what causes the most blindness in U.S. adults? It is an eye 

condition caused by diabetes, called Diabetic Retinopathy.  Currently 

more than 5 million Americans age 40 and older have this eye condi-

tion due to Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. And that number will grow to 

about 16 million by 2050, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease 

Control (CDC) and other researchers.  The CDC also estimates that 

between 12,000 and 24,000 new cases of blindness related to Diabetic 

Retinopathy occur in the United States each year
What causes Diabetic Retinopathy? Changes in blood-sugar levels 

increase your risk of Diabetic Retinopathy, as does long-term diabetes. 

Generally, diabetics don’t develop Diabetic Retinopathy until they 

have had the disease for at least 10 years. As soon as you’ve been 

diagnosed with diabetes, you need to have a dilated eye exam or an 

Optomap Retinal Exam once a year.
In the retina, high blood sugar can damage blood vessels that then 

leak fluid or bleed. This causes the retina to swell and form deposits.
In a later stage, new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. 

These new blood vessels can lead to serious vision problems because 

they can break and bleed into the vitreous, the clear, jelly-like substance 

that fills the interior of the eye.
What are the symptoms?

• Blurry or double vision

• Rings, flashing lights or blank spots

• Dark or floating spots

• Pain or pressure in one or both eyes

How is Diabetic Retinopathy treated? According to the American 

Academy of Ophthalmology, 95% of those with Diabetic Retinopathy 

can avoid substantial vision loss if they are treated in time. 
A laser can be used to seal off leaking blood vessels and inhibit the 

growth of new vessels. Called Laser Photocoagulation, this treat-

ment is painless and takes only a few minutes.  In more severe cases, 

surgery and/or some investigational drugs may be used.
If you have diabetes, you should have a complete eye exam every year. 

Finding and treating problems early may save your vision.

Diabetic Retinopathy 

by Dr. Dipak R. Kalani

Dr. Kalani, O.D., a Shadow Creek resident, is an 

Optometrist and owner of Vision Source Family 

Eye Care.  For more information on healthy eye 

exams or to schedule an appointment, call today

713-436-7544, or request an eye exam online at  

www.visionsource-shadowcreek.com.

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