Updated: Jan 13
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes, a chronic condition that affects several parts of the body such as kidneys, heart, feet, and nerves. The eyes are no exception.
Eye Problems Caused by Diabetes
Many of the complications from diabetes don’t rear their ugly heads until many years of having the disease. Problems develop silently and gradually over time, sometimes with no warning signs or symptoms. If you have diabetes, it’s vital to attend routine exams and have your eyes checked for early signs of complications. Here are the three common eye problems that people with diabetes have a greater risk of developing:
Cataracts: A cataract is a thickening and clouding of the lens of the eye, the part that helps you focus on objects. Cataracts make your vision blurry and makes it hard to see at night. Over a long period of time, high blood sugar levels can cause cataracts to form and prevent the eyes from seeing correctly, resulting in surgery for removal.
Glaucoma: This is a disease where pressure builds inside the eyes and decrease blood flow to the retina and optic nerve, damaging them. Glaucoma begins with trouble seeing, but if not treated, it can cause loss of vision. Medications can help with the pressure in the eye, but often surgery is required.
Diabetic Retinopathy: This affects the small blood vessels in the retina, which is found at the back of the eye. Diabetic retinopathy is a dangerous eye problem that can worsen with no symptoms and cause blindness.
Over time, this can cause swelling and weakening of the retinal blood vessels, which can lead to blood and other liquid leaking into the retina. If fluid leaks into the center of the eye, blurry vision may occur. If blood sugar levels stay high, diabetic retinopathy continues to worsen. New blood vessels grow on the retina, but they are weak and break easily. This bleeding affects vision but can also create scar tissue that can pull on the retina and cause detachment.
Diabetic retinopathy can also cause the macula, the middle of the retina that lets you see detail, to swell – which can lead to blindness. It’s estimated that 9 million Americans have diabetic retinopathy.
Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
As mentioned, patients with diabetic retinopathy often have no symptoms. This is especially true if blood only leaks into the retina and not the center of the eye. When noticeable symptoms such as changing of vision occurs, it’s too late to prevent the consequences. That’s why a yearly eye exam is crucial for all people, particularly those with diabetes.
Our experienced staff can help identify diabetic retinopathy in its earliest stages, and that will affect the progression of the disease and can head off vision loss.
Diabetic Retinopathy Prevention and Treatment
Currently, there’s not a foolproof prevention for diabetic retinopathy. However, there are a few things you can do to make a difference:
Control your blood sugar levels. Eat a healthy diet, exercise, monitor your blood sugar levels and take insulin or other medications as prescribed.
Control your blood pressure. Retinopathy is more likely to progress to more severe levels, including macular edema (swelling of the macula), in those with high blood pressure.
Get yearly eye exams. Screening will not prevent diabetic eye disease, but it will result in early detection and treatment to help you avoid vision loss.
The best treatment for diabetic retinopathy is controlled diabetes and blood pressure. However, our experienced staff now uses a new, highly sophisticated Digital Retinal Imaging system that helps us help us better detect early diseases such as Glaucoma, Diabetic Retinopathy, Hypertension, Macular Degeneration, Tumors and other retinal problems.
We also offer many other ocular disease diagnoses, treatment and management options. You will know more about your diabetic retinopathy treatment options on your initial consultation with us. Schedule your appointment online, by phone at (805) 650-2020, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!