Diabetes Can Affect Eyesight
If you have diabetes mellitus, your body does not use and store sugar properly. High blood glucose levels can damage blood vessels in the retina, the nerve layer in the back of the eyes that processes light to send images to the brain. The damage to retinal blood vessels is referred to as diabetic retinopathy.How Diabetic Retinopathy is Diagnosed
A medical eye examination is the best way to detect changes inside your eye. An ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) can diagnose and treat retinopathy before you are aware of any vision problems. If signs of diabetic eye retinopathy are detected on examination, there are additional tests that can be performed to evaluate any abnormalities.
Fluorescein angiography is a diagnostic test using a special camera to take photographs of the retina after a small amount of dye is injected into a vein in your arm to take detect where fluid may be leaking in the retina. Another test that may be used by the Eye M.D. is a non-invasive scanning laser that provides high-resolution images of the retina to evaluate its thickness, and can help evaluate the presence of macula edema (swelling).How Diabetic Retinopathy is Treated
Strict control of blood sugar can reduce the risk of vision loss from diabetic retinopathy.
Medical treatment includes injections of medicines designed to decrease fluid leakage in the retina and shrink swelling of the macula. Laser surgery may also be used to reduce retinal edema or used to treat the growth of abnormal new blood vessels in the retina. Multiple injections or laser treatments may be necessary to prevent further loss of vision.
Surgical treatment (vitrectomy) may be indicated if bleeding occurs inside the eye cavity or if retinal detachment occurs.When to Schedule an Eye ExaminationPeople with diabetes should have a dilated retinal examination by an Eye M.D. at least once a year.
If diabetic retinopathy is detected, more frequent examinations may be required. Pregnant women with diabetes should be seen in the first trimester, as retinopathy can progress quickly during pregnancy.
Rapid fluctuation in blood sugar can cause changes in vision even if retinopathy is not detected.
Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes. People who have diabetic retinopathy often don’t notice changes in their vision in the disease’s early stages. But as it progresses, diabetic retinopathy can cause significant loss of vision that in some cases cannot be reversed.
You should have your eyes checked promptly if you have any visual changes that affect either one or both eyes.Preventing Vision Loss
Early detection of diabetic retinopathy is the best protection against loss of vision. You can significantly reduce your risk of vision loss by maintaining strict control of blood sugar and seeing your ophthalmologist regularly. For more information, contact any of the Eye Care Physicians & Surgeons of New Jersey offices or visit www.eyecareofnewjersey.com.
Angela Veloudios, MD, FACS is a Fellow of the prestigious American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, one of a select group of surgeons nationally who has received certification for this subspecialty of ophthalmology. She is also a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, a prestigious scientific organization that recognizes academic and clinical excellence. She is currently an Attending Surgeon at Wills Eye Surgery Center, Cooper University Hospital, Virtua Memorial Hospital and The Surgical Center of South Jersey.As seen in Camden County Woman and Burlington County Woman