Diabetic Eye Care
Your body can be affected by diabetes in many ways. It can affect your vision by causing cataracts, glaucoma and damage to the blood vessels in your eyes. Studies indicate that people with untreated diabetes are 25 times more at risk for blindness. The longer you have diabetes, the greater the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
Responsibility of diabetes patients
It is very important for patients to take very good care of themselves to help prevent diabetic retinopathy. Patients should have regular medical eye exams and try to maintain good blood sugar levels, good blood pressure, and avoid smoking.
The symptoms of background diabetic retinopathy usually go unnoticed until you have an eye exam, or there has been a significant loss in vision. Proliferative retinopathy usually causes hazy, spotty, painless changes in your vision that require immediate medical attention.
Frequent eye exams are extremely important in controlling any diabetic changes in the eyes. If diabetic retinopathy is found on an eye exam, a fluorescein angiography may be ordered to find out if treatment is needed. Fluorescein angiography is a test wherein dye is injected into the veins of your arm and photos are taken to see if there is any leakage from the blood vessels.
An early stage of diabetic retinopathy is background diabetic retinopathy. In this stage, small blood vessels leak in the retina, causing swelling and the formation of deposits called exudates. Leaking fluid in the retina can cause macular edema, a condition that can negatively affect your vision and close work.
In proliferative retinopathy, new, abnormal blood vessels growing on the abnormal blood vessel growth is referred to as neovascularization. These new blood vessels are weak, and often break or bleed inside the eye. When bleeding occurs, it prevents the light entering the pupil from properly reaching the retina, causing blurred vision. The new, abnormal blood vessels may grow scar tissue that pull on the retina, which can lead to retinal detachment.
A laser surgery procedure called laser photocoagulation can be used to seal off the leaking blood vessels in the eye. If this type of surgery is performed at an early stage in diabetic retinopathy, it can slow down vision loss. Laser surgery can also help prevent severe visual impairment in cases of proliferative retinopathy.
When laser surgery cannot be used, cryotherapy is often effective. This procedure involves freezing parts of the retina to help shrink the abnormal blood vessel growth.
Vitrectomy surgery is sometimes performed in advanced cases of proliferative retinopathy. This procedure involves removing the vitreous, which is the clear jelly like substance in the center of the eye, thereby removing visual obstructions caused by bleeding within the eye.
In some cases of proliferative retinopathy, a retinal repair is needed. This surgery is recommended when the scar tissue has caused the retina to pull away from the back of the eye.