Diabetic Eye Diseases
Removing the Obstacles to
People suffering from diabetes are more likely to develop serious eye conditions, due to their high blood sugar levels that can harm the eye’s blood vessels. In fact, more than 40% of diabetics eventually develop some form of eye disease. Often, these are conditions that cause the retina or new blood vessels on the retina surface to leak blood or fluid, leading to highly compromised vision and a poorer quality of life.
If you have diabetes, it is very important to have a yearly eye exam that includes dilation of your eyes. This way, our precision ophthalmologists can detect any symptoms of diabetic eye disease, while still in its early stages. You can also practice preventive habits such as managing and controlling your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Combining a healthy diet with routine daily exercise provides another effective plan to minimize your risk. In every case, be sure to take any prescribed diabetic medications, at the times and dosages directed.
The most prevalent diabetes-related eye disease is Diabetic Retinopathy, a condition that can often lead to blindness. Brought on by changes in blood sugar levels, diabetic retinopathy is usually found only in patients who have had the disease for 10 years or longer. This condition involves blood vessels in the retina that leak blood or fluid, leading the retina to swell and form deposits.
In many instances, you might not immediately notice any vision changes. One of the earliest signs of trouble is the appearance of tiny areas of swelling in the retina’s small blood vessels. As additional blood vessels become clogged, a signal is sent from the brain for the retina to sprout new blood vessels, complicating matters even more. This is why it is important for diabetics to get annual eye check-ups…so that these symptoms can be discovered by a medical expert such as those at Advanced Eye Surgery Clinic.
Keep in mind that early-stage diabetic retinopathy usually does not require any active treatment – only regular monitoring of blood sugar levels and perhaps a change to a healthier lifestyle. Treatment becomes necessary, should the disease progress and increasingly impact your vision.
Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy
Those with proliferative diabetic retinopathy have entered a more advanced stage of the disease, at which point new blood vessels on the retina have become brittle and abnormal in shape. This makes them especially vulnerable to leakage and, ultimately, can lead to significant loss of vision.
One of the more common signs of blood leaking into the retina is the appearance of floaters across the vision field. These dark floating spots are actually blood specks from the leaking blood vessel. A simple floater in your vision path is not necessarily cause for alarm, as many of these disappear on their own. But it is always wise to have floaters checked out, especially if you suffer from diabetes.
One of the accepted treatments for proliferative diabetic retinopathy is a laser surgery known as PRP (panretinal photocoagulation). This procedure incorporates thousands of laser burns around the retina, in order to shrink new, abnormal blood vessels. This treatment is usually conducted in several sessions. Quick attention to this matter is highly encouraged, as delaying could result in severe bleeding at the center of the eye. At that point, it might be necessary for a major surgical encursion called a vitrectomy, which is a process that removes the vitreous jelly around the eye.
Diabetic Macular Edema
Macular edema can happen at any phase of diabetic retinopathy. This is a condition in which fluid builds up in the macula, the retina’s light-sensitive region that enables us to see in fine, sharp detail. Some signs of macular edema include retinal swelling and/or difficulty reading or doing a task at close range. This can be quite frustrating, especially as it worsens and impacts day-to-day activities.
Our experienced ophthalmologists can diagnose macular edema during a regular eye exam, even before symptoms appear. Should you begin to note these difficulties, it’s
wise to contact your doctor immediately to schedule your check-up.
Macular Edema Treatment
Focal laser is usually the recommended treatment for diabetic macular edema. Several hundred small laser burns are applied to the area around the macula where retinal leakage is most prevalent. The intent is to prevent further leakage and decrease the fluid buildup in the retina. This can arrest further vision loss, at least temporarily, and even return lost vision in certain instances. We perform focal laser treatment in the comfort of our Los Angeles and Encino offices, usually in one session.
Meeting the Challenges for Total Eye Health
Our experienced, licensed ophthalmologists at Advanced Eye Surgery Clinic are dedicated to helping you maintain quality vision throughout the course of your life. Even in cases where diseases like diabetes can create challenges, we offer advanced procedures designed to mitigate and relieve symptoms, as well as manage your condition. We are always happy to discuss your options and then develop a plan of action that is best for you.