Annual eye exams are a must. Vision loss is rarely reversed, meaning that our primary goal is to preserve as much of your vision as possible. If you have diabetes, this means that you have to take care of your eyes differently compared to someone who does not have diabetes.
Diabetes increases your risk for several serious eye diseases, including glaucoma, cataracts, as well as the diseases grouped under diabetic eye disease. People with all types of diabetes are at risk for developing diabetic eye disease.
Early detection and treatment of diabetic eye disease can reduce the risk of blindness by as much as 95%. This is best accomplished through regular comprehensive eye exams, and with close collaboration with our Optometrists.
Diabetic Eye Exams
The term diabetic eye disease is used to describe several eye diseases that affect people with diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy is the most well known of these diseases, though diabetic macular edema (DME), cataracts, and glaucoma are also included in this grouping.
Anyone with diabetes is at risk for developing diabetic eye disease. This risk increases the longer you have had diabetes. Nearly 50% of people with diabetes have some form of diabetic retinopathy, though only half are aware of it.
As with many eye diseases, the early stages of diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema are light on symptoms. As the disease progresses, and by the time it’s usually noticed, damage to vision occurs.
A dilated eye exam will test for diabetic eye disease. During the exam we will perform the following tests:
We are testing for: changes to blood vessels; leaking blood vessels; fatty deposits; swelling of the macula (indicative of DME); changes in the lens; damage to nerve tissue.
Protecting your eyes starts with receiving annual dilated eye exams. This exam is more in-depth than a standard eye exam; it enables us to assess your eye for all signs of developing diabetic retinopathy or diabetic macular edema. Depending on the results of your exams, we may specify a more frequent examination schedule.High blood sugar is known to damage the blood vessels in the retina, leading to retinopathy. Studies have shown that actively controlling your diabetes through diet and lifestyle factors can have an influence on the development of diabetic retinopathy.
How is diabetic macular edema treated? DME is treated through a variety of mechanisms, either individually or combined.
Anti-VEGF injection therapy – These injections block a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), preventing additional blood vessels from growing and resulting in a decrease of fluid in the retina.
Most people require monthly injections for the first six months of treatment, with the frequency of injections reducing as treatment progresses.
More Information About Diabetic Retinopathy
The four stages of diabetic retinopathy – Diabetic retinopathy has four stages:
Microaneurysms take place in the retina’s blood vessels, potentially leaking fluid into the retina.
The retina’s blood vessels swell, impairing their ability to transport blood.
Much of the retina is starved of blood, causing the retina to attempt to regrow new blood vessels. These new blood vessels are often weak and cause further damage.
New blood vessels grow along the surface of the retina and into the vitreous gel (a fluid that fills the eye). These fragile blood vessels are prone to damage, and often leave scar tissue when they die. This scar tissue can cause retinal detachment, which can result in total vision loss.