Diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness. It is the leading cause of blindness among working age Americans. Patients with diabetes are recommended to have a complete eye examination at least yearly. If your doctor finds evidence of diabetic eye disease, they will likely recommend more frequent dilated examinations.
The chances of developing diabetic eye disease is related to the length of time you have been a diabetic and the control of your blood sugars. With diabetic retinopathy changes to your vision may not be noticeable at first. In its advanced stages, the disease can cause blurred or cloudy vision, floaters and blind spots and, eventually possibly total blindness.
Effects of Diabetes on the Eye
Diabetic retinopathy can cause leaking blood vessels and blood vessels growing that are not supposed to be there. Macular edema, which is leaking fluid in the central vision that causes blurred vision and even vision loss often occurs with diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes affects the retinas in both eyes, but it may be more severe in one eye compared to the other. More advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy can often be treated if properly diagnosed. Treatments may include laser treatments and injections of medications into the eye. Several treatments may be indicated. The damage from diabetic retinopathy can be irreversible. You will often have a better outcome with early diagnosis and treatment.
Diagnosis of Diabetic Retinopathy
Fortunately, diabetic retinopathy is often preventable with proper control of the diabetes. Your risk is reduced if you follow your prescribed diet and medications, exercise regularly, and control your blood pressure. Regular eye exams are an integral part of making sure your eyes are healthy. Diabetic eye disease can be detected with a complete eye examination including dilation and imaging of the central vision (the macula) with an OCT. Dr. Stanley Grandon, Dr. Cindy Wang and I at the Eye Surgery Institute have much expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of diabetic eye disease.