Protect Your Eyes From Diabetes
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that only affects diabetics. It occurs when the fragile vascular network that supplies the retina – light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye– begins to swell or leak. During the beginning stages of this disease, there may not be any noticeable symptoms so if you have diabetes, it’s vital to check your eyes at least once per year.
Once symptoms of diabetic retinopathy develop, they can include: dark or black spots in your visual field, or blurry vision, which increases with time. This is a result of bleeding at the back of the eye, which prevents a clear image from being transmitted from the retina to the brain.
Whether you have type 1, type 2, or even just gestational diabetes, you are at risk for developing diabetic retinopathy. The longer you have the disease, the greater the risk. It is essential to keep your blood sugar levels under control to prevent vision loss. This may require a visit to your primary care physician.
Treating diabetic retinopathy can include vitrectomy -replacing the inner gel-like substance supporting the eyeball structure. And also laser surgery.
Diabetes is a disease that affects the way we process food for energy and growth. With all forms of diabetes—type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes—the body has trouble converting sugar in the blood into energy, resulting in a host of potential health problems.
Over 21 million people in the United States have diabetes, with an estimated additional 6 million people unaware they have a form of the disease. What’s more, an estimated 54 million Americans ages 40 to 74 have prediabetes, a condition that puts them at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. According to a recent American Optometric Association survey, diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults ages 20 to 74.
Diabetes increases the likelihood that common diabetes-related vision problems or diseases might occur:
- Diabetics are prone to developing cataracts (a clouding of the eye’s lens) at an earlier age.
- People with diabetes are almost 50% more likely to develop glaucoma, an eye disorder that damages the optic nerve often marked by an increase of internal eye pressure.
- Macular edema (and macular degeneration) are more common in diabetics due to malfunctioning blood vessels in the middle region of the retina responsible for central, sharp vision.
- Most notably, diabetes can result in diabetic retinopathy; an eye disease that affects the blood vessels in the all-important retina. Nearly 45 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some stage of diabetic retinopathy.
That’s why there’s no separating diabetes and vision. If you have diabetes, then you should understand vision problems that increase in likelihood as a result of the disease.
Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy
Treatment for Diabetic RetinopathyDiabetic retinopathy can be treated with a laser to seal off leaking blood vessels and inhibit the growth of new vessels. Called laser photocoagulation, this treatment is painless and takes only a few minutes.
In some patients, blood leaks into the vitreous humor and clouds vision. Your eye doctor may choose to simply wait to see if the clouding will dissipate on its own, or a procedure called a vitrectomy may be performed to remove blood that has leaked into the vitreous humor.
Studies using investigational treatments for diabetic retinopathy have demonstrated significant vision improvement for individuals who are in early stages of the disease. Two medications that are closely related, Lucentis and Avastin, may be able to stop or reverse vision loss, similar to very promising results that have been reported when these two drugs were used as treatments for macular degeneration. Ask your doctor about these treatments.
If you suffer from Diabetes, make sure you are taking care of your vision and schedule your yearly eye exam, today!