Charles D. Fritch MD,
FACS, is a renowned
ophthalmologist, founder
of Fritch Eye Care Medical
Center, and Medical
Director of a fully equipped
Ambulatory Center.

Fritch Eye Care Medical Center
8501 Brimhall Road, Suite 401 & 402
Bakersfield, CA 93312
Tel: 661-665-2020


Diabetic Retinopathy

A Vision-Threatening Disorder That Affects Up To 90% Of People With Diabetes Mellitus.

About 12 million people in the United States have some form of diabetes. 90 percent of those with diabetes mellitus will develop diabetic retinopathy to some degree. While only a small percentage of diabetics will experience serious vision problems, this means that 5000 diabetics a year will totally lose their vision.

There are two types of diabetes mellitus: a) The insulin-dependent type, which is by far the more serious form and usually strikes individuals early from ages 10 to 16 and b) Type II, which is not insulin-dependent and usually affects people of age 40. Both types can be affected by diabetic retinopathy.

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a potentially serious disorder that affects the retina, the micro-thin membrane that covers the back of the eyeball. The light-sensitive retina receives images that are focused on its surface by the cornea and inner lens. These images are transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve. Any damage to the retina will result in diminished vision, or in severe cases, partial or total blindness.

There are two types of diabetic retinopathy: background diabetic retinopathy and proliferative diabetic retinopathy. The proliferative type is the advanced stage of the disease and fortunately affects only about 5 percent of all diabetics, mostly those who have had diabetes for 25 years or more.

One of the complications of background diabetic retinopathy is the weakening of tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. When this happens, blood vessels can begin to leak fluid (serum), fatty or protein deposits and blood, reducing the nourishment to the retina. In the early stages, the individual may be unaware of the disease until a regular eye examination reveals it.

With proliferative diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels leak into the vitreous humor, the clear, jelly-like fluid that fills the inner cavity of the eye, causing cloudy vision. Another problem is created when connective scar tissue forms from damaged blood vessels. Over time, this tissue can shrink and pull at the retina, resulting in retinal detachment, another serious side effect of proliferative diabetic retinopathy.

What are the Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy?

Individuals with background diabetic retinopathy may experience little or no noticeable loss of vision. Therefore, the only sure way to determine the presence of this eye disorder, is with regular eye examinations.

Those with the advanced form of the disease - proliferative diabetic retinopathy - will most likely experience a noticeable loss of vision, including cloudiness, distortion of familiar objects or loss of central vision. Blind spots or floaters may appear periodically in the field of vision.

What is the Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy?

In the early stages of background diabetic retinopathy there may be no need for immediate treatment, but the disease should be carefully monitored by regular eye examinations. If the condition becomes more serious, a medical laser may be used to seal leaking blood vessels, slowing development into the more serious form, proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is treated in the same way.

With all serious eye disorders, early detection by regular eye examinations results in more effective treatment, especially for a disease that is progressive in nature, such as diabetic retinopathy. If you have diabetes mellitus, you should have a thorough eye examination at least once a year.

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The physicians of Fritch Eye Care Center specialize in treating Bakersfield laser eye surgery, glaucoma, and cataracts patients. Using cutting-edge technology in their state-of-the-art medical facilities, these Drs. are considered to be specialists in their field.

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