Your eyes can be affected by several different eye diseases related to diabetes. Some of these conditions include:
Diabetic Retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and the leading cause of blindness in adults. It develops as a result of changes in blood sugar levels or from long-term diabetes. Most patients don’t develop this condition until they have had diabetes for at least 10 years. High blood sugar levels cause blood vessels in the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye (the retina) to leak and cause damage.
At first, those with Diabetic Retinopathy may not notice any changes to their vision. That’s why early detection through regular and comprehensive dilated eye exams is so important. Early stages of Diabetic Retinopathy usually don’t require treatment, with patients monitoring their blood sugar levels to prevent the disease from progressing, as well as close communication with their Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute physician.
Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy
Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy is the most advanced stage of Diabetic Retinopathy. In this condition, very small blood vessels grow from the surface of the retina. These blood vessels are abnormal and fragile, and are susceptible to leaking blood and fluid onto the retina, which can cause severe vision loss and even blindness.
If blood leaks onto the retina, patients may begin to notice floaters in their vision, which are actually tiny specks of blood.
At Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute we treat many patients with Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy using laser surgery. Known as scatter laser treatment, it’s used to shrink the newly developed abnormal blood vessels using up to 2,000 laser burns in the area of the retina. Scatter laser treatment is most effective before new blood vessels have started to leak, and our doctors are highly-trained and experienced in this procedure.
Diabetic Macular Edema
Macular Edema is a serious condition that can occur at any stage of Diabetic Retinopathy and involves a buildup of fluid in the light-sensitive part of the retina (the macula) which allows us to see objects with great detail. Macular edema can cause difficulty reading or doing close work, and can greatly affect the quality of life by interfering with regular activities.
The lifetime risk for diabetics to develop macular edema is approximately 10%. During your regular eye exam, our doctors can diagnose macular edema, even before symptoms are present.
To treat macular edema, our physicians use a procedure called focal laser treatment. During this procedure, several hundred tiny laser burns are placed in the areas of retinal leakage to prevent leakage from occurring and to reduce the amount of fluid in the retina. This helps reduce the risk of vision and can even improve lost vision in some cases.
Get a Comprehensive Eye Exam Annually
Minimize your risk of developing diabetic eye disease by keeping your blood sugar and blood pressure under control, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Make sure to schedule a comprehensive dilated eye exam once a year to detect any signs of diabetic eye disease as early as possible.