Diabetes And The Eye
Most people with well managed diabetes see well and have no major eye problems. Some people develop cataracts. These cause misty vision, and can be removed with a relatively quick operation.
If your diabetes is more severe, you may develop retinopathy, a disease of the retina of your eye.
There are four stages of Diabetic Retinopathy:
- Sub-clinical Retinopathy - no clinical signs of retinopathy are visible.
- Background Retinopathy - early changes visible as dot or blot hemorrhage.
- Maculopathy - this is more serious with blood vessels leaking and causing disruption to vision. Laser treatments can seal up the leaking blood vessels.
- Proliferative Retinopathy - new small blood vessels start to grow on the surface of the retina. These blood vessels are subject to hemorrhaging and causing loss of vision. Laser treatments can seal leakages and prevent future growth of these vessels.
Preventing Eye Disease
You cannot tell if your eyes have been damaged by diabetes. Only an annual dilated eye examination can provide for the opportunity to detect diabetic changes to the inside of the eye.
What can you do to reduce the possibilities of retinopathy developing?
- Keep to a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly
- Have an annual eye examination
- Monitor your glucose regularly at home and with A1C testing by your doctor
Attend your annual diabetic review where your urine protein, feet, and other checks are carried out. Keep your blood sugar, blood pressure, and fat levels as normal as possible; keep a diary of glucose readings; record your lipids and blood pressure in the comments section of your glucose diary.
Pre-diabetic may progress to type ll diabetes. A healthy diet, weight management and regular exercise can delay or prevent onset of diabetes.
During the first three stages of diabetic retinopathy, no treatment is needed unless you have macular edema. To prevent progression of diabetic retinopathy, people with diabetes should control their blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol.
Proliferate retinopathy is treated with laser surgery. This procedure is called scatter laser treatment. Scatter laser treatment helps to shrink the abnormal blood vessels. The retinal surgeon places 1,000 to 2,000 laser burns in the areas of the retina away from the macula, causing the abnormal blood vessels to shrink. Because a high number of laser burns are necessary, two or more sessions usually are required to complete treatment. Although you may notice some loss of your side vision, scatter laser treatment can save the rest of your sight. Scatter laser treatment may slightly reduce your color vision and night vision. Scatter laser treatment works better before the fragile, new blood vessels have started to bleed. That is why it is important to have regular, comprehensive dilated eye exams. Even if bleeding has started, scatter laser treatment may still be possible, depending on the amount of bleeding. If the bleeding is severe, you may need a surgical procedure called a Vitrectomy. During a vitrectomy, blood and vitreous is removed from the inside of your eye.