Diabetic Eye Disease
What is diabetic Eye Disease?
Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of eye problems that people with diabetes may face as a complication of diabetes. All can cause severe vision loss or even blindness. People with diabetes are at risk for diabetic retinopathy (damage to the blood vessels in the retina), cataract (clouding of the eye's lens) and glaucoma (increased fluid pressure inside the eye that leads to optic nerve damage).
What are the symptoms of diabetic Eye Disease?
- Often, there are no symptoms and no pain in the early stages of the disease
- Blurred vision may occur if there is a sharp change in blood sugar
- Blurred vision may occur if the macula (the part of the retina that provides sharp central vision) swells from leaking fluid
- New black or red floaters may indicate bleeding inside the eye
How do we treat diabetic Eye Disease?
DO NOT WAIT FOR SYMPTOMS - be sure to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once annually. If you are a diabetic and have any of the above listed symptoms or haven't had a dilated eye exam within the last year, make an appointment to be seen by your SMO doctor. Diabetes is a blinding disease - if treatment is indicated, the earlier you start, the more likely treatment will be effective.
No treatment is needed with mild diabetic retinopathy unless there is swelling of the macula - controlling blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol can help prevent progression. If there is bleeding that threatens your vision, laser treatments may be used to seal up leaking blood vessels and to treat any diabetic-related abnormal blood vessel growth. If laser treatments are impossible due to the location of the bleeding, different medications may be injected into the eye to reduce swelling, leakage, and/or abnormal blood vessel growth. If the bleeding is severe, surgery to remove blood from the eye may be necessary.