Patients diagnosed with diabetes should pay close attention to their eyes and schedule regular eye exams, as diabetes can lead to serious eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular edema, and diabetic retinopathy. At Normandy Optical, our team of eye doctors will thoroughly examine your eyes, perform a comprehensive eye disease screening, and develop a personalized treatment plan for you. Schedule an appointment today!
Diabetic Eye Diseases
Diabetes can affect many parts of the body, including the heart, blood vessels, nerves, and even the eyes. Diabetic eye disease is a term for several eye problems that can all result from diabetes. One of the best things you can do for your eyes is to keep your blood sugar at near-normal levels. Steady blood sugar control can slow the damage to the tiny blood vessels in your eyes, which helps prevent or delay the start of eye problems linked to diabetes. However, even with adequate blood sugar management, sometimes these conditions can still develop.
Some of the most common types of diabetic eye diseases include:
Diabetic Retinopathy Diabetic retinopathy is damage to blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. Diabetic retinopathy affects about 30 percent of people with diabetes and is often left untreated due to inconsistent visits to the eye doctor.
Symptoms include floaters, blurred vision, bleeding, and vision loss. This disease can lead to glaucoma, cataracts, and macular edema if left untreated. While diabetic retinopathy isn't reversible, it is treatable, and it may be possible to prevent further vision loss. Some treatment options include diabetes management, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, surgeries, and medication.
Glaucoma Glaucoma is a condition that is often caused by abnormally high eye pressure and can lead to damage of the optic nerve, causing blurred vision and vision loss. Having diabetes doubles your odds of glaucoma.
Some early symptoms of glaucoma include blurred vision, eye pain, eye redness, colored halos, or nausea. There are two main types of glaucoma: open-angle, causing abnormalities in the eye, and angle-closure, causing blockage in the eye. Damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed, but further damage can be prevented with treatment. The goal of treatment is to lower the eye pressure; some treatment options include medicated drops, glaucoma surgery, or a combination of these treatments.
Cataracts Cataracts are a clouding of the lens in the eye caused by clumped eye proteins that can prevent a person from seeing clearly. Cataracts are typically caused by aging but can be related to diabetes and other conditions.
When a cataract forms, the lens becomes cloudy and often a yellowish-brown color. It blocks light from entering the eye and causes blur, glare, and, occasionally, double vision. Ways to prevent cataracts include maintaining a healthy lifestyle by avoiding tobacco and alcohol, shading your eyes from the sun, and visiting your eye doctor yearly. If the condition gets severe enough, it is treatable with cataract surgery.
Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) Diabetic macular edema (DME) causes fluid to leak into the macula, the area in the center of the retina responsible for sharp vision. Fluid buildup causes the macula to swell and thicken, which distorts vision. DME is an eye disease that develops after diabetic retinopathy goes untreated. There are two types of DME: Focal DME, causing abnormalities of the blood vessels, and Diffuse DME, causing swelling of retinal capillaries.
Some symptoms of DME include blurred vision, floaters, double vision, and even blindness. Treatment includes eye drops, medication injections inside the eye, and vitrectomy surgery. Other surgeries are available for worsened symptoms, including focal laser treatment and grid laser treatment. Prevention starts prior to diagnosis. Remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle and visit your eye doctor once a year.
Symptoms of Diabetic Eye Disease
Individuals with diabetes can suffer damage to their eyes without displaying any symptoms, which is why it's essential to have your eye doctor examine your eyes at least once a year. That being said, some patients with diabetic eye disease or other issues may experience the following symptoms:
Blurred vision or difficulty focusing
Vision loss or dark areas
Spots or "floaters" in your vision
Poor color vision
Eye pain or discomfort
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with one of our experienced diabetic eye specialists at Normandy Optical right away. We can perform a diabetic eye exam to identify the issue.
Diabetic Eye Disease Risk Factors
When high blood sugar from diabetes is combined with certain other factors, it can raise your risk of vision problems. In addition to the length of time you’ve had uncontrolled diabetes and how well you control your blood sugar levels, these risk factors include:
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure
High cholesterol levels
Belonging to high-risk ethnic groups including Hispanic, African American, or Native American
Diabetic Eye Exam
If you have diabetes, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends you have an eye exam each year. Diabetic eye exams are similar to regular eye exams in many ways; however, during a diabetic eye exam, your eye doctor will specifically focus on the health of your retina and the integrity of the blood vessels in your eye. Comprehensive diabetic eye exams can help make sure that eye complications caused by diabetes are caught early and properly treated so that further eye damage is prevented.
The diabetic eye exam is simple and painless. During the exam, your eye doctor will give you eye drops to dilate (widen) your pupils. Dilating your pupils helps your optomertist see inside your eyes more easily. They may take diagnostic photographs of your retinas; the camera is close, but it won’t touch your eye. Your doctor will look for early signs of damage to tiny eye blood vessels and see if your vision has changed as a result of diabetes.
The eye drops take about 15 minutes to have an effect, and your vision becomes blurry. This is normal, and the effects of the drops can last between two to six hours. You won’t be able to drive home, so bring someone to drive you or arrange for other transportation.
Contact Our Metro-Detroit Diabetic Eye Doctors
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes and believe you are experiencing eye complications related to diabetes, Normandy Optical offers annual diabetic eye examinations. Not only can our diabetic eye specialists assess your vision, but we can also guide you through the vision-related aspects of your diabetes management efforts.
Our knowledgeable eye doctors are experienced in detecting and treating a wide range of ocular diseases and are passionate about staying up to date on the latest treatment options. When you choose Normandy Optical for diabetic eye care, you can be confident that your vision is in good hands. Schedule a Diabetic Eye Examination Today