If you’re one of the almost 40 million Americans living with diabetes, you most likely already know the disease, if left untreated, has the ability to rob you of your health in many ways. But did you know that diabetes can also affect your eyesight? November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month and at Cargo Eye Care of Las Colinas, we want to take this opportunity to share about the ways diabetes affects the eyes and how you can protect your precious site.
How Does Diabetes Affect Vision?
Diabetes is a condition that affects your body’s ability to produce or use insulin effectively to control blood sugar levels. Too much blood sugar (glucose) in the blood for an extended time can cause damage in many organs of the body. Diabetes can damage your heart, kidneys and blood vessels. It damages the small blood vessels in the eye as well. Even if your diabetes is well controlled, it can affect your eyes.
The good news is that about 90% of vision loss from diabetes is preventable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As you might imagine, early diagnosis and intervention are key in preventing irreversible vision loss from diabetic eye disease.
What Are the Different Types of Diabetic Eye Disease?
Diabetic eye disease describes a group of conditions that can result from having diabetes and includes:
- Diabetic Retinopathy (by far, the most common)
- Diabetic Macular Edema
We’d like to point out that glaucoma and cataracts are not exclusively diabetes-related eye diseases and can and do develop in people who don’t have diabetes. But having diabetes does increase your risk of developing these two eye conditions.
“Studies show that between 80 to 85 percent of people who have diabetes will develop some degree of diabetic eye disease – mainly diabetic retinopathy – in their lifetime.”
Dr. Jonathan Cargo
Diabetic Retinopathy Explained
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the tiny blood vessels in the retina swell, leak or close off completely. New abnormal blood vessels can also grow on the surface of the retina. Damaged blood vessels and abnormal new ones can cause vision loss. Symptoms include blurry vision and the presence of floaters in your line of sight, poor night vision and loss of sight.
Treatment will depend on the severity of your unique condition. In some cases, medical management by a doctor is adequate. However, in cases where the condition is more advanced, we may recommend one of the following treatment options and can refer you to a trusted ophthalmologist for these advanced treatments:
Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (ANTI-VEGF)
This injection can help by reducing the number of abnormal blood vessels in the retina and decreasing fluid.
Focal or Grid Laser
A type of laser surgery used to seal leaking blood vessels or to stimulate the cells under the retina to absorb the leaked fluid.
For more severe cases of diabetic retinopathy when the eye is filled with blood or if a retinal detachment has taken place, vitrectomy surgery is a great option. A surgical procedure that removes vitreous gel, blood and scar tissue in the back of the eye, vitrectomy is also used to repair retinal detachments that result from more advanced diabetic eye disease.
Let Us Help You Protect Your Sight
At Cargo Eye Care of Las Colinas, it has been our great privilege to care for the eye health of generations of families in North Texas. We want every one of our valued patients to enjoy their best possible vision in every season of life.
If you or someone you love is living with diabetes, please prioritize having an annual dilated eye exam at Cargo Eye Care. It can help detect more serious vision problems before they cause irreversible damage to your eyesight. Dr. Cargo and Dr. Patel help many of our patients navigate caring for their sight as they live with diabetes. Schedule your annual comprehensive eye exam today.