Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to produce or use insulin effectively to control blood sugar (glucose) levels. Although glucose is an important source of energy for the body’s cells, too much glucose in the blood for a long time can cause damage in many parts of the body, including the heart, kidneys, blood vessels and the small blood vessels in the eyes. If you have diabetes, you are at higher risk of developing certain eye diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts.
Recommended Exam Schedule for Diabetics
With a high risk of developing certain eye diseases, individuals with diabetes should get a comprehensive dilated eye examination at least once a year because in its early stages, diabetic eye disease often has no symptoms. By scheduling an annual exam it could help preserve your vision and reduce your chances of eye disease. A dilated eye exam allows our ophthalmologists to examine the retina and optic nerve more thoroughly for signs of damage before you notice any change to your vision. Regularly monitoring your eyes’ health allows your ophthalmologist to begin treatment as soon as possible if signs of disease do appear. Please allow 60-90 minutes when dilation is included in your routine eye exam.
Diabetic Retinopathy Symptoms
In its earliest stages, diabetic retinopathy may cause no symptoms. The initial symptoms may be barely noticeable or mild. Over time, the condition can worsen and lead to partial and then complete blindness. Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:
- Floaters or dots and dark strings in your field of vision
- Dark or empty areas in your field of vision
- Blurry vision
- Difficulty focusing
- Vision changes that seem to fluctuate
- Altered color vision
- Partial or total vision loss
Diabetic retinopathy most often affects both eyes at the same time and in equal measure. If you’re experiencing issues with only one eye, it doesn’t mean you don’t have diabetic retinopathy. However, it might indicate another eye issue. Contact Ophthalmology Associates to schedule an appointment to find an appropriate treatment plan.
Treatments for Diabetic Retinopathy
Treatment for diabetic retinopathy are intended to slow or stop the progression of the condition. The exact treatment depends on which type of retinopathy you have, how severe your condition is and how well-controlled your diabetes is. Although issues can often correct themselves once the treatment is complete and your eyes have had time to heal, vision assistance devices, such as glasses or contacts can also be used to treat any permanent vision changes. Possible treatments include:
Yearly Eye Exams
Yearly eye exams are important, even if your retinopathy isn’t severe or causing any symptoms. Going to yearly exams is the only way your ophthalmologists can monitor changes.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle allows you to manage your diabetes and take control of your blood glucose to reduce the likelihood that your retinopathy will become worse.
Focal Laser Treatment
A focal laser treatment could be an option if you have advanced diabetic retinopathy. This treatment can stop or slow blood leakage from your blood vessels by burning the abnormal blood vessels and should stop symptoms—possibly reverse them.
Scatter Laser Treatment
Scatter laser treatment is a type of laser treatment can shrink abnormal blood vessels and scar them so they’re less likely to grow or bulge in the future.
Vitrectomy is a minor surgery to ease the symptoms of retinopathy if lifestyle or laser treatments don’t work. During this procedure, a tiny incision is made in your eye to remove blood that has leaked from your blood vessels. Scar tissue that is pulling on your retina and impacting your vision can also be removed.
Our doctors do outreach care including exams and surgery. Check out our locations.
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Ophthalmology Associates has been serving the greater Mankato area for over 50 years and our goal has been to provide our patients with the utmost in personal attention and the very best in eye care services. Contact us to set up your appointment today!