If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, you already know that it can lead to a variety of serious health problems. One problem that is often overlooked until it’s too late is diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease caused by diabetes, and it’s one of the leading causes of adult blindness in the U.S. Early detection is the best way to avoid complications from diabetic retinopathy. So if you have diabetes, your best safeguard is to get eye exams in Cape Cod, MA on a regular basis. If you have been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, here’s what you need to know.
What causes it?
Diabetes affects the flow of blood throughout the body, resulting in damage to the smaller blood vessels, including those found in the eye. Over time, the damaged blood vessels in the eye may burst and leak into the retina. As the disease progresses, new and very fragile blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. These new blood vessels, without treatment, will also burst, leaking blood into the retina. The blood in the retina is what causes blurred vision and, quite often, severely impaired vision or blindness.
What are the symptoms?
Unfortunately, diabetic retinopathy is hard to detect and, by the time symptoms become severe enough to create the need to see an eye doctor, it is usually too late to repair the damage. That’s why it’s so important to get regular eye exams in Cape Cod, MA, especially when you have diabetes. There are, however, noticeable symptoms that occur during the late stages of the disease. If you are currently experiencing any of the following symptoms, it’s important to see an ophthalmologist immediately:
- Pain and/or pressure radiating from the eye
- Floaters or spots in your field of vision
- Double or distorted vision
- Partial loss of vision
- A shadow over your field of vision
- A constant redness of the eye
What are my treatment options?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for diabetic retinopathy. However, there are a few treatments that can help improve vision once the damage has occurred:
- Laser treatments can be used to seal leaking blood vessels and reduce swelling in the retina.
- Anti-VEGF injection therapy is a treatment in which drugs are injected in order to stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels.
- A vitrectomy, the surgical removal of the vitreous gel in the eye, is used to treat severe bleeding and remove scar tissue.
- Corticosteroids are steroids that are implanted in the eye to reduce swelling and suppress diabetic retinopathy.
If caught early on, no treatment may be necessary to halt the progression of the disease, other than the careful monitoring of your blood sugar levels and follow-up exams. That’s why regular eye exams in Cape Cod, MA are the best way to prevent the disease from damaging your vision beyond repair. If you’re worried about how your diabetes might be impacting your eyesight, schedule an appointment with the experts at Bayview Optometrics by calling us today.