Diabetic Services

 

Approximately 16 million people in the United States have diabetes and one-third of them do not know it. People with diabetes are 25 times more likely to become blind than people without diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of new blindness among adults. Each year 12,000 to 24,000 people lose their sight because of diabetes. By detecting and treating diabetic eye disease early through annual, dilated eye exams, people with diabetes can preserve their sight.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a potentially vision threatening condition in which the blood vessels inside the retina become damaged from the high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes. These damaged vessels can then leak, bleed or scar and cause retinal detachment, hemorrhaging or macular edema, conditions than can damage vision.

More that one-third of those diagnosed with diabetes do not receive the recommended vision care and may be at risk for blindness. Because there are often no symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, vision may not be affected until the disease becomes severe.

Once diagnosed with diabetes, schedule a complete dilated eye examination with your doctor at least once a year. Make an appointment promptly if you experience blurred vision and floaters that:

Affect only one eye
Last more than a few days
Are not associated with a change in blood sugar

In advanced cases of diabetic retinopathy, laser treatment has been shown to reduce the loss of vision. The surgery does not cure diabetic retinopathy, nor does it prevent future vision loss, especially if diabetes or blood pressure is not well controlled.

Diabetes Can Affect Sight
If you have diabetes mellitus, your body does not use and store sugar properly. High blood-sugar levels can damage blood vessels in the retina, the nerve layer at the back of the eye that senses light and helps to send images to the brain. The damage to retinal vessels is referred to as diabetic retinopathy.

How Is Diabetic Retinopathy Diagnosed?
A medical eye examination is the best way to detect changes inside your eye. An ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) can often diagnose and treat serious retinopathy before you are aware of any vision problems.

How Is Diabetic Retinopathy Treated?
The best treatment is to prevent the development of retinopathy as much as possible. Strict control of your blood sugar will significantly reduce the long-term risk of vision loss from diabetic retinopathy. If high blood pressure and kidney problems are present, they need to be treated.

Vision Loss Is Largely Preventable
If you have diabetes, it is important to know that today, with improved methods of diagnosis and treatment, a smaller percentage of people who develop retinopathy have serious vision problems. Early detection of diabetic retinopathy is the best protection against loss of vision.

You can significantly lower your risk of vision loss by maintaining strict control of your blood sugar and visiting your ophthalmologist regularly.

When to Schedule an Examination
When you are first diagnosed with diabetes, you should have your eyes checked:

within five years of the diagnosis if you are 29 years old or younger;
within a few months of the diagnosis if you are 30 years old and older.

 

 

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