Carolina Vision Associates, O.D., P.A. Our eye doctor in Wilmington, North Carolina explains.
If you have diabetes, you’ve probably been told about how you’re at risk for a range of serious health complications. Out of all these threatening problems, blindness may be the most feared.
Diabetic eye disease can develop as early as one year after the onset of diabetes, and statistics report that up to 45% of people with diabetes display some degree of damage to their retina. No matter which type of diabetes you have – type 1, type 2, insulin-dependent or not – the risk for eye disease is higher, and it’s increased by the number of years that you have diabetes. Also, African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and American Indians/Alaska Natives have a higher chance of losing vision from diabetes.
However, as our eye doctor reminds every patient with diabetes, vision loss is not inevitable! You can lower your chances of diabetic eye disease by taking several important actions.
Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our Wilmington eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.
When blood sugar levels aren’t stable and maintained within the normal parameters (as recommended by your physician), it can weaken the blood vessels at the back of the eye. These abnormal retinal blood vessels can start to bleed and leak, blurring vision and impairing sight permanently. This condition is known as diabetic retinopathy, and it’s the most common eye problem caused by diabetes. During a diabetes eye exam at our eye clinic, we will inspect your eyes thoroughly for any signs of this dangerous condition.
In addition to retinopathy, people with diabetes are also at a greater risk of cataracts and glaucoma. Both of these eye diseases can blur vision, and glaucoma can damage the optic nerve – causing permanent loss of peripheral vision that can progress to complete blindness when left untreated.
You won’t be able to see diabetic eye disease until it’s too late! You may be surprised to learn that just because you don’t have any symptoms or visual complaints, it doesn’t mean your eyes are healthy. Most of the time, retinopathy doesn’t cause any symptoms until it has advanced to a point where the vision loss is irreversible. That’s why it’s so important to visit an eye care center for regular comprehensive eye exams! At these eye exams, your eye doctor will dilate your eyes to get a detailed view of the retina and optic nerve.
If you do notice symptoms, such as the sudden appearance of many floating spots (similar to spider webs), a “veil” covering your vision, or vision changes in one or both eyes, call your eye clinic immediately.
When retinopathy and other diabetic eye diseases are detected during their early stages, treatment can be highly effective and prevent permanent damage to your eyes. Early intervention is critical for the lasting health of your vision. If you have diabetes, the importance of visiting your eye clinic for yearly dilated eye exams cannot be overstated!
Additionally, good blood sugar control and healthy blood pressure go far towards protecting your eyes. That means following your physician’s instructions for how to care for your diabetes, be it through medication to keep blood sugars stable, exercising, eating nutritiously, losing weight, and making healthy lifestyle changes.
Treatment Can Save Sight
Various treatments are available for retinopathy. If the results of your eye exam show any problematic blood vessels, your eye doctor will discuss treatment options with you. Possible therapies given at your eye care center include injections of medication to decrease blood vessel leakage and inhibit the growth of abnormal blood vessels. This will stop the progression of diabetic eye disease. Laser surgery is another option, which may be performed at your eye clinic or local hospital. Treatment for diabetic eye disease can not only stabilize vision, but can sometimes even improve the quality of sight.
Make Visits to Your Eye Doctor a Part of Your Diabetes Care
If you have diabetes, annual eye exams at a qualified eye care center are essential for reducing your risks of eye disease!
Carolina Vision Associates, O.D., P.A., your Wilmington eye doctor for eye exams and eye care
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