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Diabetic Eye Care

Diabetes can affect many organs of the body and the eyes are no exception. The most common effect diabetes has on the eyes is a condition known as diabetic retinopathy. Almost half of all diabetic patients have some form of diabetic retinopathy. 

Retinopathy simply means "disease of the retina".  Diabetic retinopathy is a progressive disease that affects the small blood vessels which nourish the light sensitive section (retina) of the back of the eye. 

There are numerous ways diabetic retinopathy presents itself in an individual’s eye. It can include swelling of the vessels or leakage from increased pressure in the vessels. Sometimes new blood vessels are formed on the retina. Each of these affects the ability of the retina to perform its portion of the vision process. The longer diabetic related eye conditions are left untreated, the greater is your risk for vision loss.

Regular Eye Exams for Diabetic Patients

It is very important for individuals with diabetes to have comprehensive eye exams at least once per year and possibly more frequently as directed by your eye care provider. Some diabetes related eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy may not have noticeable symptoms in their early stages. However, if these conditions are identified early and treated properly, their adverse effects can often be kept in check.

The screening process for diabetic eye conditions is painless and is completed at Goodman Eye Medical Center using leading eyecare technology. Our new modern eyecare center is equipped with cutting edge diagnostic equipment and treatment lasers to ensure our patients have the most advanced vision screening and diabetic eyecare possible.

Pregnancy and Diabetes

While the possible effect of diabetes itself is reason enough to have routine eye exams, the risk of diabetic related eye conditions is greatly increased with pregnancy.

If you become pregnant and have diabetes, you should contact your eyecare provider to arrange for a diagnostic eye exam as soon as possible. Your doctor may request that you continue a series of exams throughout your pregnancy

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy:

The initial onset of diabetic eye conditions may not be noticeable to the individual. Oftentimes, diabetic retinopathy is detected during the course of a routine eye examination.  As we have mentioned numerous times throughout this website, the earlier this and other conditions are diagnosed the easier it is to treat, manage and intervene to prevent more serious and permanent vision loss.  

Diabetic retinopathy will often manifest with the following symptoms:

  • Floaters – small specks or matter that seems to be floating in your field of vision
  • Blind or dark spots in the middle of your vision
  • Reddish or dark streaks that block out part of your vision
  • A loss or blurring of vision
  • Problems adjusting from bright to low light situations
  • Impaired night vision

Types of diabetic retinopathy:

Background Diabetic Retinopathy:  Refers to the generalized deterioration in the retinal blood vessels.  This deterioration often results in leakage, bleeding and swelling of the retina.

Macular Edema:  This is a form of diabetic retinopathy which results in the central retina, the macula, swelling due to poor and abnormal circulation within the retinal blood vessels which are damaged by the diabetic process. 

Proliferative Retinopathy:  Is the term applied to the diabetic condition in which new blood vessels begin to form on the retina.  Unlike normal blood vessels which do not leak or bleed normally, these new blood vessels can bleed very easily and very dramatically.

Vitreous Hemorrhage:  Is a form of proliferative diabetic retinopathy which is characterized by bleeding into the large back cavity of the eye.  This is a very serious development which requires urgent evaluation and treatment. 

These treatments and others are conveniently available at the Goodman Eye Medical Center.

Prevention of Diabetic Eye Conditions

All of the treatments listed are designed to stop the progress of diabetic eye disease, but will not restore lost vision or damage. It is very important to take an active role in protecting your vision.  A few of the steps you can take:

  • Have regular comprehensive eye exams.
  • Allow your eye doctor to dilate your pupils when he or she recommends it.
  • Report any changes in your vision to your eye care provider.
  • Practice eating a balanced diet.
  • Maintain proper blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
  • Maintain your blood pressure under control.
  • Don't smoke (even passive smoke inhalation can double the risk of retinopathy).
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Treatment of sleep apnea if you suffer from this condition.
  • If you become pregnant and have diabetes you should contact your eye doctor as soon as possible.

Please discuss these and other steps available to protect your vision with your personal eye care provider! Only direct involvement of you and your medical provider can provide proper evaluation of your personal needs and determine the best ways to protect your vision.

Schedule an appointment with us. 

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