Diabetes is a common cause of blindness in adults. Those with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are the most susceptible to eye and vision complications such as retinopathy and cataracts.
The best way to maintain your eye health and stay ahead of possible eye disease onset is by scheduling regular eye exams with your licensed Optometrist. The best time to catch damage occurring in the eye is early, when treatments tend to be more effective, and before it starts to affect your vision. Our experts at Poudre Valley Eyecare specialize in preventative care and treatment for those who are both prone to and suffering from diabetes-related vision problems. Book an eye exam with our experts today.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high levels of blood sugar damage the blood vessels in the eye – especially the retina. The retina is the back portion of the eye that is composed of the sensitive photoreceptors that turn light into information that your brain processes to produce our most valuable sense, VISION.
When strained by the pressure of excess blood sugar, the blood vessels begin to release fluid and blood into the retina which can lead to an array of eye and vision complications. When blood is lost, swelling occurs within the macula (the most central area inside the retina). Often early retinopathy does not impact your vision directly, but if left untreated can cause severe eye problems as it progresses.
One may not experience symptoms during the early stages of retinopathy, typically referred to as non-proliferative retinopathy. This phenomena occurs when the blood vessels in the retina and possibly the macula begin to leak blood and plasma. If mild to moderate and occurs in the periphery the vision will not be affected. If this occurs in the macula the vision may be affected. At this stage, no new blood vessels are growing within the retina.
Many people with diabetes experience some degree of non-proliferative retinopathy. The chances increase the longer someone has had diabetes or the degree of severe fluctuations in sugar levels or high sustained sugar levels
Proliferative retinopathy is the more advanced form of eye disease for diabetic patients. This phase can be identified by observing new blood vessel growth within the retina. This process, otherwise known as neovascularization, produces several small and fragile blood vessels throughout the retina. These new vessels often continue to bleed easily and can lead to vitreous hemorrhage or retinal detachment (causing permanent vision loss). In most retinopathy cases, both eyes are affected equally.
Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
If you experience blurred vision to any degree, it may be a sign of retinopathy. Similarly, eye floaters may be a sign of vision impairment from high blood sugar levels. No matter the severity or longevity of symptoms, blurred vision to any degree is reason enough to seek help from a licensed professional.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy may or may not include:
- Constant or sporadic blurring of vision
- Increased “floaters” in eye
- Dark areas in central or peripheral vision
- Poor vision in the dark
Diagnosis & Treatment
To diagnose diabetic retinopathy, you’ll need to schedule a comprehensive, dilated eye exam so your licensed Optometrist can perform a detailed examination on your retina. During the exam, our doctors will look for typical symptoms of retinopathy, paying close attention to factors like damaged/hemorrhaged blood vessels, internal macular swelling and new blood vessel growth.
The level of treatment required for retinopathy varies depending on the stage of the disease and the amount of retinal damage that has already occurred. A healthy diet with keen blood glucose management and an active lifestyle are always necessary for diabetic and non-diabetic patients alike, and will likely be recommended. However, the condition may require medical intervention. Common treatment options include:
- Laser coagulation
- Laser surgery
- Anti-VEGF inhibitor
- Steroid treatments
Our experts at Poudre Valley Eyecare recommend getting your eyes checked regularly by scheduling a routine eye exam. Diabetic patients who are especially susceptible to eye disease and vision impairment should pay extra attention to their eye health and schedule an appointment at least once per year. Our doctors are trained in eye treatment of all types and look forward to helping you on your journey toward improved vision and eye care. Should surgery be necessary, we can connect you with the leading eye surgeons and specialists in Colorado to support your unique needs.
There’s an easier way to maintain your eye health and vision with diabetes. Contact our team today to schedule your next eye exam and decide on the treatment path that makes the most sense for you.
Why Choose Us?
Our advanced technology and individualized care deliver results for patients of all ages. Our routine exams allow us to spot changes in your vision and allow us to treat those changes early. We have a comprehensive understanding of eye care, which means we can treat a wide range of conditions and chronic diseases. Our in-depth routine exams and customized treatment plans set us apart from the rest.