Diabetes and Your Eyes
- Posted on: Nov 15 2018
November is Diabetic Eye Disease Month, a time during which we can shed more light on the effects that diabetes can have on long-term eye health and vision. We are proud to offer a range of ophthalmology services to patients of our Winchester, VA LASIK and cataract center, including diabetic eye exams and management of diabetic eye disease. Here, we discuss the progression of diabetic eye conditions and how you can protect your vision.
Vision Loss from Diabetic Eye Disease
There are several ways that the eyes may change as a result of blood sugar consistently being outside of the normal range. One of them is that the blood vessels in the eye progressively weaken. The path of diabetic eye disease looks like this:
- Microaneurysms occur as a few of the tiny blood vessels around the retina loose strength and resiliency. We call this mild non-proliferative retinopathy.
- Blood vessels continue to weaken and also become distorted in shape, diminishing the circulation through the back of the eye. Without sufficient blood flow, the retina begins to change. We call this moderate non-proliferative retinopathy.
- Moderate eye disease can transition into severe non-proliferative retinopathy, in which growth factors are secreted in the eye to grow new blood vessels.
- The new blood vessels that grow are fragile, so they also bleed into the back of the eye. This is called proliferative diabetic retinopathy.
- Proliferative diabetic retinopathy may also involve the development of scar tissue around affected blood vessels. This thick, rigid tissue can pull on the retina, separating it from its foundation. This is referred to as retinal detachment.
- Another complication of proliferative diabetic retinopathy is macular edema, or swelling and distortion of the macula, the structure at the center of the retina.
Diabetic eye disease is a serious concern because the early changes that occur in the eye do not cause any symptoms. Indications of diabetic retinopathy may not be noticeable until vision has been severely affected. For this reason, it is crucial that any person with diabetes sees their ophthalmologist for a full dilated eye exam on a yearly basis. Diabetes management is also a factor in avoiding ocular damage.
Posted in: Diabetic Retinopathy