Diabetes and Eyesight

Diabetes prohibits the body from properly using and storing sugar, leaving excessive amounts of sugar in the bloodstream which can cause damage to blood vessels and various parts of the body- including the eyes and visual system. Diabetic retinopathy is when this condition results in progressive damage to the retina at the back of the eye.

 

What are the Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy progressively damages the blood vessels of the retina to the point that they begin to leak blood and fluids. This leakage causes swelling in the retinal tissue which can impact your ability to focus causing vision loss and if left untreated, eventually will cause blindness. Retinopathy typically affects both eyes and often will have no symptoms in the early stages – making regular eye exams essential for anyone with diabetes. The longer an individual has had diabetes, the more likely it is that they will have some degree of retinopathy. Symptoms include:

 • Blurred or cloudy vision

 • Seeing floaters or spots

 • Difficulty reading or seeing close objects

 • Double Vision

 • Poor Night Vision

 

Untreated diabetic retinopathy can also lead to a detached retina. This can happen if the disease has progressed to proliferative retinopathy in which new, fragile blood vessels grow in the retina and the vitreous at the back of the eye. The blood vessels can break, leaking fluid and causing the growth of scar tissue which can cause the retina to detach. If left untreated this can cause blindness as well.

 

What causes Diabetic Retinopathy?

Generally speaking, diabetics do not develop diabetic retinopathy until they have had the disease for several years. Even though in some cases it may take a while for diabetic retinopathy to develop, you should still have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year as soon as you have been diagnosed with diabetes.

 

In the retina, high blood sugar can damage blood vessels causing them to leak fluid or bleed. This will cause the retina to swell and form deposits. When this occurs, an early form of diabetic retinopathy called non-proliferative or background retinopathy has now developed. In a later stage, new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. When this happens, it is called proliferative retinopathy. These new blood vessels can lead to serious vision problems because they can break and cause bleeding into the vitreous which is the clear, jelly-like substance that fills the interior of the eye. Proliferative retinopathy is a much more serious form of the disease and can lead to blindness.

 

Below are some tips that may help reduce the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy:

 • Keep your blood sugar under good control.

 • Maintain a healthy diet.

 • Exercise regularly.

 • Carefully follow your doctor's instructions.

 

How is Diabetic Retinopathy treated?

Diabetic retinopathy can be treated with a laser to seal off leaking blood vessels and inhibit the growth of new vessels. This treatment is called laser photocoagulation and typically only takes a few minutes.

 

In some patients, blood leaks into the vitreous fluid and clouds the vision. Your eye doctor may choose to simply wait to see if the blood will dissipate on its own, or perform a procedure called a vitrectomy to remove the blood.

 

Small studies using investigational treatments for diabetic retinopathy have demonstrated significant vision improvement for individuals who are in early stages of the disease. There are medications that may be able to stop or reverse vision loss. These medications are similar to the very promising results that have been reported when the medications have been used as treatments for macular degeneration.

Optics of Scottsdale

20301 N. Hayden Road  |  Suite 100  |  Scottsdale,  AZ 85255

Phone:  (480) 991-0509

Fax: (480) 419-9515

E-mail: info@opticsaz.com

Hours of Operation

Monday  -  Thursday:  9am - 6pm

Friday: 9am - 5pm

Saturday: 9am - 2pm

Accepted Insurance

Avesis  |  BCBS-Most plans  |  Blue View Vision

Eyemed  |  Humana  | Superior Vision  |  VSP

Medicare-Services benefits

Optics of Scottsdale

20301 N. Hayden Road  |  Suite 100  |  Scottsdale,  AZ 85255

Phone:  (480) 991-0509  |  Fax: (480) 419-9515

E-mail: info@opticsaz.com

Hours of Operation

Monday  -  Thursday:  9am - 6pm

Friday: 9am - 5pm

Saturday: 9am - 2pm

Accepted Insurance

Avesis  |  BCBS-Most plans  |  Blue View Vision

Eyemed  |  Humana  | Superior Vision  |  VSP

Medicare-Services benefits