Several factors can increase the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. These risk factors include:
Duration of diabetes:
The longer a person has diabetes, the higher their risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Over time, chronically elevated blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in the retina.
Poor blood sugar control:
Consistently high blood sugar levels can contribute to the development and progression of diabetic retinopathy. Keeping blood glucose levels within the target range recommended by your healthcare provider is crucial in minimizing the risk.
High blood pressure:
Uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure) can further damage the blood vessels in the retina. People with diabetes and high blood pressure have an increased risk of developing diabetic retinopathy and experiencing its progression.
High cholesterol levels:
Elevated levels of cholesterol, particularly LDL (bad) cholesterol, can increase the risk and severity of diabetic retinopathy. Proper management of cholesterol levels through lifestyle modifications and, if necessary, medication can help mitigate this risk.
Pregnant women with diabetes, particularly those with poor blood sugar control, are at higher risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. This condition, known as gestational diabetes, requires careful monitoring and management to reduce the risk of complications.
Smoking increases the risk of various complications associated with diabetes, including diabetic retinopathy. Smoking damages blood vessels and reduces blood flow, which can exacerbate the damage caused by diabetes on the retinal blood vessels.
There may be a genetic predisposition to developing diabetic retinopathy. Some individuals may be more susceptible to the condition due to their genetic makeup.
It’s important to note that while these risk factors increase the likelihood of developing diabetic retinopathy, they do not guarantee its occurrence. Additionally, some individuals without these risk factors may still develop the condition. Regular eye examinations, as recommended by your healthcare provider, are crucial for early detection and appropriate management of diabetic retinopathy. By effectively managing diabetes, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and seeking regular eye care, you can reduce your risk of developing or experiencing severe complications from diabetic retinopathy.