When you are diagnosed with diabetes the last thing you want to hear is that this metabolic disease actually is the gateway to a host of other conditions that affect your nervous system, kidneys, heart and, yes, vision. Your ophthalmologists and optometrists and our excellent staff here at Vision Care and Surgery Associates in Hialeah and Weston know that one of the keys to maintaining good eye health is regularly scheduled comprehensive eye examinations.
Diabetic eye problems you may encounter include lens issues, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Patient education is another important tool and many patients need answers to the same questions.
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Glucose accumulation damages blood vessels throughout the body, but the delicate vessels in our eyes are at greater risk for damage. The retina converts signals which are sent to the brain along the optic nerve. Damaged blood vessels, scarring, leaking fatty deposits and new growth all threaten our vision; when your blood sugar is poorly controlled, these vessel problems can impact your vision.
What are the types of Diabetic Retinopathy?
Non-proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR)- an early form, the blood vessels become weak and leak blood, or dilate and nerve fibers swell.
Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy- the advanced form of the disease where blood vessels close off and new abnormal vessels try to grow. This can increase pressure in the eyeball and cause damage to the optic nerve.
What are the risk factors for Diabetic Retinopathy?
Any diabetic is at risk for developing retinopathy, but risk increases due to:
- Poor control of blood sugar level
- Tobacco use
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- How long you have had diabetes
- Being Native American, Hispanic or African-American
What are the Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy?
Initially, this condition may demonstrate no symptoms while damage is being done, which is why regularly scheduled comprehensive eye examinations are so vital to your eye health. As the retinopathy progresses you may experience:
- Floaters- or string-like spots floating into your vision
- Dark areas in your vision
- Impaired color vision
- Blurred vision
- Vision loss
How is Diabetic Retinopathy diagnosed and treated?
Those comprehensive eye exams will include dilation of the pupils and thorough examination of all blood vessels; if the condition is detected, your eye doctor will discuss their findings and treatment options with you.
Initially, if detected early, no treatment may be necessary, just careful monitoring. If treatment is required, medication and laser surgery may be necessary to stop blood leakage from damaged vessels.
If you have diabetes and any of the above symptoms, call us today for an appointment. At Vision Care and Surgery Associates, your precious sight is our only concern. Hialeah 305-835-7588, Weston, 954-945-5570.