What is it?
Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye problems that affect those with diabetes. All people with diabetes are at risk. Included in this group are diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma. Diabetic retinopathy is a common condition. Between 40 to 45 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some stage of diabetic retinopathy, according to the National Eye Institute.
Diabetic retinopathy is a potentially blinding complication of diabetes in which blood vessels inside the retina become damaged from high blood sugar levels. The role of the retina is to function as the “film” of a camera, processing images for the eye. Damage to blood vessels with diabetic retinopathy leads to the leakage of fluids into the retina and the obstruction of blood flow. Both may cause vision loss.
The early stages of diabetic retinopathy may go unnoticed. However, in time blood vessels can leak and bleed, resulting in blurring of the central vision. Areas of visual field dropout can occur anywhere throughout the vision.
You should contact the office to schedule an appointment in the interim if you notice a change or disturbance such as blurred vision and/or floaters if it:
- • Affects only one eye
- • Lasts more than a few days
- • Are not associated with a change in blood sugar
If you already have diabetes, the best way to prevent complications associated with diabetes is with tight control of your blood-sugar level. Also, maintaining good control of your blood pressure, exercising regularly and quitting smoking helps to reduce the incidence of complications associated with diabetes. You should schedule a complete eye examination at least once a year. More frequent eye examinations may be necessary after a diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy.
If you have diabetes, it is important to know that today, with improved methods of diagnosis and treatment, only a small percentage of people who develop retinopathy have serious vision problems. Early detection and regular monitoring of diabetic retinopathy is the best protection against loss of vision.
For some people with vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy, laser surgery may be a treatment option to seal leaking or bleeding blood vessels. Sometimes surgery is necessary to help preserve vision.