Diabetic Eye Disease
What Is Diabetic Eye Disease (Diabetic Retinopathy)?
With diabetes, the body can’t use or store sugar properly. Diabetes damages blood vessels in the eye and causes retinal swelling, referred to as diabetic macular edema. The damage of the blood vessels causes diabetic eye disease. Diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of permanent blindness in working age adults in the United States.
In later stages, the disease may lead to new blood vessel growth over the retina. The new blood vessels can cause scar tissue to develop, which can pull the retina away from the back of the eye. This is known as retinal detachment, and it can lead to blindness if untreated. The presence and severity of diabetic retinopathy are related to the duration of diabetes. However, severe and significant diabetic retinopathy can be present at the time of diagnosis especially with adult-onset diabetes.
Signs And Symptoms Of Diabetic Retinopathy
Everyone who has diabetes is at risk for developing diabetic retinopathy. Therefore, regular diabetic screening evaluations are recommended. The symptoms of diabetic retinopathy can include floaters, blurred vision or double vision. Sometimes difficulty reading or doing close work can indicate that fluid is collecting in the macula, the light-sensitive part of the retina. This fluid buildup is called macular edema.
Treatment Of Diabetic Retinopathy
The severity of diabetic retinopathy can be limited or prevented by close monitoring and control of blood sugars, blood pressures and blood lipids, such as cholesterol. Control of any one of these risk factors can reduce the severity of diabetic retinopathy. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 95% of those with significant diabetic retinopathy can avoid substantial vision loss if they are treated in time. The possibility of early detection is why it is so important for diabetics to have a dilated eye exam at least once a year.
Diabetic retinopathy is most often treated with intravitreal injections which are injections that deliver medicines inside the eye, near the retina. It can also be treated with laser photocoagulation to seal off leaking blood vessels and destroy new growth. In some patients, blood leaks into the vitreous humor and clouds vision. A procedure called a vitrectomy removes blood that has leaked into the vitreous. Surgical treatment may also be successful at improving and preserving vision.
As a leader in clinical retina care, Wolfe Eye Clinic has expertise in treating diabetic eye disease and other retinal diseases. Wolfe Eye Clinic offers complete retina services throughout Iowa, including Ames, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Iowa City, Marshalltown, Ottumwa, Spencer, Waterloo, and Pleasant Hill.
Please contact Wolfe Eye Clinic at 1-800-542-7956 to ask any diabetic eye disease or other retina disease-related questions or to schedule an appointment with one of our retina specialists: Dr. David Saggau, Dr. Charles Barnes, Dr. Jared Nielsen, Dr. Kyle Alliman, Dr. Alex Kartvelishvili, Dr. George Par, and Dr. Paul Boeke.