Diabetes (diabetes mellitus) is a common disease in which blood-sugar levels are chronically too high. The disease has many related complications, and several eye diseases among them. The most common eye complication of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of adult blindness. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood-sugar levels affect the functionality of blood vessels in the retina (light-sensing cells in the eye). In early phases of the disease, capillaries will leak blood or fluid. This can cause swelling in the retina (which may result in blurring of central vision), and it can leak into the vitreous humor (the fluid surrounding the retina) causing floaters or obscuring vision.
During the beginning stage serious vision damage is less likely, however, it can lead to a more advanced stage of the disease called proliferative diabetic retinopathy. In this form, blood vessels in the retina actually close off. New blood vessels grow to make up for the lack of blood flow to the retina. The new blood vessels unfortunately are accompanied by scarring and more leakage. This can lead to serious vision loss and blindness.
symptoms may include:
- Decreased night vision.
- Floaters or obscured vision.
- Blurry vision.
Treatments for diabetic retinopathy vary based upon the nature and progression of the condition. The best way to preserve good vision is to vigilantly control blood-sugar levels, lessening the chance of retinopathy, and impeding its rate of advancement. Once the disease is in advanced stages, the ophthalmologist may choose a type of laser surgery, called pan-retinal photocoagulation. This technique burns many tiny dots across the retina, with the aim of sealing off leaky blood vessels and discouraging further blood vessel growth.
This surgery does not cure diabetic retinopathy, but it can help to save remaining vision. If the vitreous humor has become clouded by blood leakage, there is a chance it may be naturally purged by the eye. If clouding persists, however, a vitrectomy, a surgical removal of the vitreous humor, may be necessary. Your Salt Lake City ophthalmologist will replace the vitreous humor with a saline solution, and the eye naturally replenishes the vitreous fluid over time. This procedure can restore vision that has been obscured in the vitreous, however, any vision loss due to retinal damage or detachment is not restored.
At Olympus your Salt Lake City eye surgeon will take a holistic look at your eye health to construct a personalized treatment plan that will meet your needs, address any diabetic retinopathy symptoms, and ensure your vision health for years to come. We perform a comprehensive eye health screening, which allows us to diagnose and address eye conditions at the earliest sign. Early detection lets us begin corrective measures in time to prevent additional deterioration.
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Diabetic Retinopathy is a disease caused by diabetes. High blood sugar leads to damage to the blood vessels in the retina. This can cause the blood vessels to swell and leak or to close off entirely.
Everyone with diabetes should have an annual dilated eye exam. The doctor will assess the retina to determine whether there is any sign of diabetic retinopathy.
Patients who have diabetic retinopathy may not know it, especially in the early stages. As the disease progresses they may notice an increased number of floaters, blurred vision, increasingly worsening night vision, blank or dark areas in the peripheral vision, or noticing colors appearing faded or washed out. Symptoms are usually noticed in both eyes.
The best treatment is prevention. Managing blood sugars is the best way to minimize the effect of diabetic retinopathy. Depending on the severity of the disease and its effect on the eye treatments may involve laser, medications injected into the eye, or surgery.