Diabetic Eye Care
Diabetic Eye Care
It is important to have a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year if you have diabetes. Individuals with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, which is caused by damaged blood vessels to the retina. People with diabetes are 25 times more likely to lose vision over time than non-diabetic individuals. Changes in glucose levels and long-term diabetes increase your risk of diabetic retinopathy. Everyone who has diabetes is at risk for diabetic retinopathy; however, not all diabetics develop the condition.
Diabetic retinopathy, a common complication of diabetes, affects the blood vessels in the retina (the thin light-sensitive membrane that covers the back of the eye). This condition primarily occurs due to lack of oxygen flow to the retina. If untreated, it may lead to blindness. If diagnosed and treated promptly, blindness is usually preventable. There are two types: nonproliferative and proliferative retinopathy. Nonproliferative retinopathy is the less severe type in which there may be hemorrhages (bleeding) in the retina and leakage of blood or serum causing a "wet retina." As a consequence, vision may be diminished. Proliferative retinopathy is a more severe type of diabetic retinopathy. New abnormal fragile vessels develop on the surface of the retina and may grow toward the center of the eye. These vessels frequently bleed into the vitreous (the clear jelly in the center of the eye) and can cause severe visual problems. Treatment is by laser surgery or surgery on the vitreous. These techniques can slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy and sometimes will reverse visual loss. However, damage done may be permanent.