As Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month, November is a time to shed light on this important disease and offer insights and guidance for support. We’ll be sharing information on what diabetic eye disease is, symptoms to be aware of, treatment options, and more. Read on for what you should know…
Diabetes & Vision
Diabetes is a common condition that is estimated to impact 1 in 10 Americans and can also cause vision complications. The World Health Organization reports that more than 75% of patients who have had diabetes for more than 20 years will have some form of diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy is a general term for retinal problems caused by diabetes and is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. Since people with diabetes have difficulty naturally regulating blood glucose levels, prolonged and persistent high blood sugar can cause blood vessels in the eye to react. These reactions can take the form of swelling, leaking, or growing in areas and directions they should not. This all negatively affects the retina, which is the part of the eye that receives and converts light to ultimately tell our brain what we are seeing.
Symptoms of Diabetic Eye Disease
For those with diabetic retinopathy, it is not uncommon to initially have the disease without knowing it. While there may not be any symptoms in the early stages, as the eye disease worsens symptoms can include:
- Seeing an increasing number of eye floaters
- Blurry vision
- Having vision that changes from blurry to clear
- Seeing blank or dark areas
- Having poor night vision
- Noticing colors appear faded or washed out
- Losing vision
There are currently several treatment options available for diabetic eye disease. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends:
- Medical Control – controlling blood sugar and blood pressure to stop vision loss. In some cases, good sugar control can actually bring some vision back
- Medication – medications are often administered as injections in the eye. Your ophthalmologist will partner with you on the specific medicine that is recommended for your treatment plan.
- Laser Surgery – this type of surgery can be used to help seal off leaking blood vessels, which can reduce swelling of the retina. It can also help shrink blood vessels and prevent them from growing again
Prevention of Diabetic Retinopathy
First and foremost, it is critical to follow your primary doctors’ care plan to manage your diabetes and maintain healthy blood glucose levels. Eating a healthy diet rich in vitamins and nutrients, prioritizing regular exercise, and refraining from smoking are all ways to create a lifestyle that decreases the impact of diabetes on your body.
It is also necessary to see your ophthalmologist at least annually, to stay on top of your care. Especially because diabetic eye disease can present no symptoms early on, comprehensive eye exams are crucial to early detection of vision complications.
The ReFocus team is proud to have many experts who are well-trained in the best options for management and treatment of diabetic eye disease. Contact us today to get started and stay on top of your eye health.