Your diabetes affects many parts of your health, including your eyes. It accelerates certain conditions, such as glaucoma and cataracts. But it's most dangerous because of a disease called diabetic retinopathy. This disease can cause you to lose all or part of your vision. Here is how diabetes can hurt your vision and how you can prevent it.
Diabetes and Blood Vessels in the Eye
There are two forms of diabetic retinopathy, and they both involve the tiny blood vessels in the back of your eye.
- Nonproliferative retinopathy weakens some of the blood vessels in the eye, causing them to leak fluid. As the fluid builds up on the surface of the eye over the retina, your vision becomes blurry, and you'll see gray blotches across your vision.
- Proliferative retinopathy causes irregular blood vessels to form over the retina and create scar tissue. The scar tissue pulls on the retina. If the retina is pulled away from the back of the eye, you'll have partial or total blindness in that eye.
A Subtle and Dangerous Eye Disease
There are few symptoms associated with diabetic retinopathy. The disease can become quite severe without you noticing until your vision begins to fail. If you do have symptoms, you may ignore them as something insignificant. These symptoms include:
- blurry vision
- gray patches across your vision
- floating shadows across your vision
- eye pain and headaches
Saving Your Eyesight
People with diabetes should have regular diabetic eye examinations. The eye doctor will check on the pressure in the eyeball and look for the presence of the abnormal blood vessels in the eye. Your doctor will also look for signs of fluid and scar tissue over the retina.
This disease can't be cured, so your doctor will make recommendations that will help slow down the progression of the disease. Some of the treatment options include:
- Laser surgery to remove the weakened blood vessels and dry up any fluid that has recently leaked out of them.
- Medication to reduce the damage to existing blood vessels in the eye and to stop the growth of abnormal vessels that create scar tissue.
- Retina surgery to repair parts of the retina that have been forced off of the back of the eye by the scar tissue.
Any loss of vision from the diabetic retinopathy cannot be restored, but the progress of the disease can be slowed. Frequent eye examinations, especially if you suspect any changes in your vision, are important for diagnosing this disease before it causes significant damage to your vision.
For more information, contact Coastal Eye Group PC or a similar location.