Diabetic Eye Care
in Portland OR
How common are diabetic eye conditions?
The eye conditions that diabetic patients may face include diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts. Diabetic retinopathy develops in approximately 1 in 3 adults with diabetes. This is the most common cause of vision loss among diabetic people. However, with appropriate care, the risk of vision loss can be reduced up to 95 percent. Studies indicate that people with diabetes are twice as likely as non-diabetics to develop glaucoma or cataracts.
Symptoms Of Diabetic Eye Conditions
Diabetic eye conditions often develop without any noticeable vision loss or pain, so significant damage may already be done to the eye by the time patients notice any symptoms. For this reason, it is important for diabetic patients to have their eyes examined at least once a year. Early detection of eye disease can help prevent permanent damage.
Causes Of Diabetic Eye Conditions
Diabetic-related eye problems develop from high blood sugar levels, which can cause damage to blood vessels in the eye. Over 40 percent of diabetic patients will develop some form of eye disease in their life. The risk of developing eye problems can be reduced through regular eye exams and by keeping blood sugar levels under control through a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Who is at risk for developing diabetic eye conditions?
Any person who has diabetes is at risk for various eye problems. The risks increase when diabetes is not well-managed or when a diabetic patient has untreated high blood pressure. High cholesterol and smoking also increase risks for diabetic eye conditions. Studies suggest that the longer a person has diabetes, the greater their risk will be for secondary conditions like diabetic retinopathy. While gestational diabetes is not believed to pose a risk for eye conditions, women who are diabetic before they become pregnant should be careful to keep regular eye exams throughout pregnancy.
Is eye damage from diabetes reversible?
Eye damage may be reversible in some instances but not in every case. It depends on the way that diabetes has affected the eye. For example, if a diabetic person experiences poor vision because they have developed cataracts, then cataract-removal surgery can improve eyesight. If diabetic retinopathy has damaged many blood vessels in the back of the eye, vision loss may not be correctable. It is very important to see an eye doctor regularly if you have diabetes and to schedule a comprehensive consultation and eye examination if you experience changes in vision.
Who is a good candidate for treatment?
Diabetic eye conditions like diabetic retinopathy can and should be treated as early as possible. In the initial stages of the disease, patients may not show symptoms of the breakdown of ocular structures. This is why diabetics need to have regular dilated eye exams. If changes in the blood vessels of the eye are noticed or other signs of eye disease are found, conservative treatment that includes heightened diabetes management offers a good chance of slowing the progression of the disease and preserving long-term vision.
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common type of diabetic eye disease and the leading cause of blindness in the US. This condition is caused by blood vessel changes within the retina that lead to swelling and leaking of fluid. It can also cause the growth of abnormal new blood vessels on the surface of the retina. There are four stages of diabetic retinopathy that begin with the occurrence of microaneurysms and eventually lead to abnormal blood vessels on the surface of the retina that can easily leak fluid and cause severe vision loss and even blindness.
The fluid can also leak into the center of the macula and cause swelling and blurred vision, a condition known as macular edema. The risk of developing macular edema increases as diabetic retinopathy progresses.
Treatment of Diabetic Eye Conditions
Treatment for early stages of diabetic retinopathy and other conditions usually focuses on maintaining levels of blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol, in order to prevent any permanent damage from occurring. For more advanced stages of the condition, laser surgery is often effective in shrinking the abnormal blood vessels through over 1,000 laser burns in the area of the retina. This procedure, known as scatter laser treatment, usually requires two or more sessions in order to fully remove the blood vessels.
Macular edema can also be treated through a laser procedure, called focal laser treatment, which places hundreds of laser burns in the area of retinal leakage to reduce the amount of fluid in the retina. This treatment only requires one treatment.
What happens if diabetic retinopathy is left untreated?
Diabetic retinopathy is a potentially serious eye disease that can cause irreparable damage to the eye’s retina. The small blood vessels that keep the retina healthy become blocked when the blood sugar level is either too high or too low for an extended period. To make up for damaged blood vessels, the body will make new blood vessels. The new vessels that develop are weak and fragile. These vessels leak fluid and blood into the eye, which accumulates at the center of the retina in a tissue called the macula and causes swelling. This condition is referred to as macular edema. The process of blood vessel damage often leads to a buildup of scar tissue on or around the retina. Scar tissue can cause the retina to detach from the back of the eye, an event that could lead to blindness.
How can I prevent diabetic eye conditions?
The best strategy that diabetic patients can implement to protect their eyes is to manage their general health. Remember, it’s not just blood sugar that plays a role in the risks of eye diseases. Diabetics should manage their ABC’s, including their A1c blood sugar tests, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Additionally, diabetics should avoid smoking. Dilated eye exams should be performed at least once a year. This allows the ophthalmologist to evaluate the health of all ocular structures, including tiny blood vessels, the retina, and the optic nerve.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
We offer diabetic eye care in Portland, OR. If you have diabetes and are seeking treatment options, contact the Eye Clinic P.C. by calling 503.297.4718 to schedule a consultation with one of our providers today, or fill out our form below.