Diabetes and the Eyes
If you have a diabetic condition or know someone who does, you are probably aware of the fact that diabetes can interfere with the body’s ability to break down sugar.
Over time, this condition can weaken the lining of small blood vessels in the body and cause them to change and leak. When this occurs in the retina of the eye, it is called diabetic retinopathy. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential, since the eye disease can lead to blindness. That’s one reason why it is important to have your eyes examined periodically by a doctor of optometry if you are a diabetic.
A thorough, comprehensive eye examination consists of several tests and procedures. During this time Dr. Baron gets to know you, your family history of eye disease; be sure to mention this to Dr. Baron so that he can rule out any signs of the disease. Not every diabetic patient develops retinopathy, but the chances of getting it do increase after having diabetes for several years. Evidence also suggests that factors such as pregnancy, high blood pressure and smoking may cause diabetic eye disease to develop or worsen. Diabetic retinopathy describes all the types of blood vessel changes that can occur inside the retina due to high blood sugar levels. The duration of elevated blood sugar levels can also cause these changes. This condition usually affects both eyes at the same time and develops in stages.
The beginning stage may produce visual symptoms like blurriness in your central and peripheral (side) vision, or it may produce no visual symptoms at all. It mainly depends on where the blood vessel changes take place inside your eye’s retina, which is a light-sensitive tissue lining the back of your eye that sends visual messages to the brain. As diabetic retinopathy progresses, you may notice a cloudiness in your vision, floaters or blind spots in your vision. This is usually caused by blood, leaking from abnormal new blood vessels, which blocks light from reaching the retina. In the advanced stage, connective scar tissue forms in association with new blood vessel growth, causing additional vision distortion and blurriness. With time, this tissue can shrink and detach the retina by pulling it towards the center of the eye and away form its underlying structure.
Once diabetic retinopathy has been diagnosed by Dr. Baron or your family physician, laser and other surgical treatment may be used to reduce the progression of this eye disease and decrease the risk of vision loss. Ask Dr. Baron to explain the types of treatment available and those best suited to your situation. If diabetic retinopathy should impair your ability to see, Dr. Baron may prescribe special low vision aids to help maximize your remaining vision. Some of the optical aids available include telescopic lenses for distance vision, microscopic lenses, magnifying glasses and electronic magnifiers for close work. These are available here at Golden Vision Clinic.
As a diabetic, or person at risk, it is important that you take steps to help prevent the development of diabetic retinopathy and to help maintain a healthy body. One of those is having periodic eye examinations. Others include taking prescribed medication correctly, following a proper diet, and exercising regularly. By following these guidelines, chances are good that you can enjoy a lifetime of good vision and health.