Questions about Diabetic Eye Disease?

What is the most common diabetic eye disease?

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. In some people with diabetic retinopathy, retinal blood vessels may swell and leak fluid. In other people, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. These changes may result in vision loss or blindness.

Who is at risk for retinopathy?

Blood sugar, blood pressure levels, how long you have had diabetes and family genetics all play a factor in your eye health. The more regulated your blood sugar levels the less likely you are to have retinopathy.

How is retinopathy treated?

The earlier diabetic eye diseases are diagnosed the higher the success rate of treatments involving laser procedures or surgery. With one treatment, photocoagulation, the doctor uses a laser to make small burns on the retina which seal the blood vessels to stop them from leaking. With scatter photocoagulation hundreds of burns are done in a polka-dot pattern. This reduces the risk of blindness or the detachment of the retina. If the retina is already detached a surgery known as vitrectomy, is preformed to remove scar tissue and fluid from the eye.

What are the different types of retinopathy?

The major types of retinopathy include background, maculopathy and proliferative. With background retinopathy there may be damage to the blood vessels but usually no vision problem. It's important to carefully manage your diabetes at this stage to prevent it from progressing into a more serious stage. In maculopathy, the person has developed damage in a critical area at the back of the retina called the macula. This is critical to vision so this type of eye problem can significantly reduce vision. Finally with proliferative retinopathy, new blood vessels start to grow in the back of the eye. Because of poor circulation with diabetes these small vessels become blocked and cause damage to the eye and loss of vision.

How can I prevent diabetic eye problems?

Annual eye exams are extremely important to help identify any problems early. Early detection and treatment will help you keep your vision at its best. By controlling your blood sugar and blood pressure you will also be able to lessen any eye damage.