Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to effectively control the body’s blood sugar. This can damage blood vessels throughout the body, including the blood vessels in the eye. This strain can cause swelling or leaks of those blood vessels, as well as new blood vessel growth. This is called diabetic retinopathy.
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in American adults. In the majority of diabetic retinopathy cases, blindness is completely preventable. The use of medications and daily blood sugar monitoring can make a major impact on containing the worsening of diabetic retinopathy.
The retina is often compared to the film in a camera. This light sensing film found in the back of the eye, captures the images. In the diabetes disease, sugar (glucose) builds up within blood vessels in the retina and tissues of the body causing it to attach to the proteins in the wall. This alters the vessel’s normal structure and functioning. The vessels eventually get blocked and leak fluid. When they cannot deliver an adequate amount of blood supply to the eye, the eye can generate abnormal new blood vessels.
Early diabetic retinopathy usually has no symptoms. However, worsening diabetic retinopathy can lead to visual loss and blindness.
Diabetic Retinopathy Symptoms
If you are a diabetic patient it is suggested by Crew & Boss Eye Associates that you have regular eye exams to look for symptoms. Diabetic retinopathy does not really have any initial warning signs.
• Retinal swelling may cause blurred vision and distortion.
• Objects may look smaller or larger than normal
• Floaters may appear due to the bleeding of the blood vessels.
How Does Crew and Boss Eye Associates Detect Diabetic Retinopathy?
Your doctor will detect diabetic retinopathy through regular eye exams with their diabetic patients. In the earliest stages of diabetes, eye exams once or twice a year may be acceptable. The doctors will be specifically looking for the leaking blood vessels that can lead to more advanced levels of this eye disease. A dilated eye exam will be performed by your eye doctor and retinal photographic equipment will be used.
Diabetic Retinopathy Treatments:
– A vitrectomy may be performed to clear blood and debris from the eye, to remove scar tissue, or to alleviate traction on the retina. The vitrectomy actually removes vitreous gel from the eye through a small incision using a laser. Vitrectomy allows the retina to flatten. Depending on the severity of the diabetic retinopathy, gas or air might be placed in the eye to replace the vitreous fluid that was removed. This gas or air helps smooth out the retina and prevent retinal detachment.
– These laser treatments are also known as photocoagulation. The laser is uses controlled bursts to seal leaking blood vessels, destroy abnormal blood vessels, seal retinal tears and remove abnormal tissue that has formed on the back of the eye.
– Many studies have been conducted recently with injections such as Avastin. Injections may reduce retinal swelling and improve visual acuity in patients with diabetic macular edema.
Learning to Live with Diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy
If you are diabetic patient you have most likely had some kind of discussion with your primary care doctor regarding diet. The nutrition of the food you eat becomes critical for maintaining proper blood sugar levels. Please refer to this list below for diabetic nutrition tips and how to prevent diabetic eye disease:
• Be sure to have a dilated eye exam once a year
• Incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine
• Reduce artificial fats
• Be sure to drink 8 glasses of water per day
• Increase your fiber intake
• Increase your fruit and vegetable consumption