Diabetic Eye Disease

Diabetes is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness among adults in the United States. Diabetic eye disease can include blurred vision, early development of cataracts, retinopathy, and macular edema.

Focusing Problems

When your blood sugar is high, the sugar level in your eye will also increase, and it changes the focus for both eyes, usually making you more nearsighted. Your focus should gradually return to normal when your blood sugar levels return to normal. That is how some people find out that they have diabetes. If you get glasses to see better and your blood sugar changes, the glasses won’t focus correctly.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the blood vessels in your retina are damaged from high blood sugar levels over long periods of time. Your eye doctor can see these when your eye is dilated for a retinal examination, but at SureVision Eye Centers we can take a laser digital photo of your retina, even without dilating your pupil.  This allows you to actually see where the blood vessels are affected, and we can email a copy of these photos to your diabetes doctor, or even to you for your medical records.  Just ask for an Optomap on each visit.

Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) occurs when diabetes causes damage to your retinal blood vessels. Over time, high blood sugar can cause these blood vessels to leak or bleed.  When these areas are small and away from the center of your vision, they don’t cause problems and you can’t see them unless we take that picture of your retina, the Optomap.

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) is a more advanced stage of diabetic eye disease where new blood vessels (neovascularization) develop. These new blood vessels are very fragile and often cause serious bleeding in your eye.  There is a treatment for this, but it is most effective if these are found early and treated before serious bleeding occurs. Retinal Scarring and Detachment can occur from having these blood vessels leak and bleed repeatedly.  When this causes problems, it needs retinal surgery to remove the scarring and repair the detachment.

Macular Edema

This is swelling that occurs in the central part of your retina if the small blood vessel leak. Sometimes we can treat this condition successfully with eye drops, but when more advanced, it is treated with medication injected into your eye.

Limit Your Risk of Developing Diabetic Retinopathy

Even with good control, diabetic retinopathy can eventually occur. Yearly eye exams and frequent visits to your primary care doctor will help to ensure that Diabetic Eye Disease is caught and treated early.  You can help minimize the risk of diabetic complications:

  • Control your blood sugar levels (diet, exercise, medication)
  • Monitor your blood sugar and seek help if it is not well controlled.
  • Control your blood pressure and cholesterol
  • If you smoke cigarettes, STOP.
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