Diabetes affects a very large part of the American population, and most diabetics know that they are at a higher risk for developing additional health conditions including diabetic eye disease. Diabetic eye disease is a group of conditions that can affect the eye’s functionality and eventually have a negative impact on your vision if left untreated. Vision loss and blindness are worst-case scenarios with untreated diabetic eye disease. The most well-known diabetic eye disease is diabetic retinopathy, and diabetics also face increased risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma.
Diabetic retinopathy affects the eye’s functions by damaging blood vessels in the retina. Blood vessels may swell and leak, or abnormal blood vessels may form on the retina and cause vision impairment. The retina is responsible for turning light into impulses that communicate with the brain for vision, so blood vessels that suffer injury here could translate into severe vision loss or blindness. Unfortunately, there are no early warning signs for diabetic retinopathy, and when symptoms do present, it may be too late. The only way to prevent serious vision complications due to this disease is through regular diabetic eye testing.
According to The National Eye Institute, almost half of diabetic people in this country suffer from some degree of diabetic retinopathy!
Fortunately, there are ways you can minimize your risk for developing diabetic eye disease and control any form of eye disease with early diagnosis. Your primary care physician has no doubt stressed the importance of keeping your diabetes under control with regular blood sugar monitoring and compliance. You should also pay special attention to your eye health with regular monitoring by an experienced ophthalmologist. Finding and treating diabetic eye disease before it has a chance to cause permanent damage is integral to the long-term health of your eyes. For many of the effects of diabetic retinopathy, there is no way to reverse them – so it is important for diabetic patients to meet the need for ongoing eye care. Diabetic patients should not smoke as it may increase your risk of diabetic eye disease.
The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to develop diabetic retinopathy or another diabetic eye disease. If you haven’t had an ophthalmology exam yet this year, schedule one with our skilled California diabetic eye disease team.
Treatments for diabetic retinopathy include laser treatment to shrink abnormal vessels or seal swollen, leaking vessels. Although laser treatment can reduce your risk of permanent vision loss, early detection is still the best method of preventing blindness and severe vision damage.
Learn more about the eye and vision complications in our Glossary of Terms.
Find out if your eyes may be threatened by diabetic eye disease. Our skilled San Diego ophthalmologist can help you protect your vision. If you are in San Diego, La Jolla, Mira Mesa, or Scripps Ranch, call or email Advanced Eye & Laser Center of California, Inc. today for your free diabetic retinopathy consultation with our experienced vision team.