November reminds us of all the many things we have to be thankful for. Things like family and friends. Things like good health. Even good eyesight is something to be thankful for. November is also Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month. Diabetic Eye Disease is a real threat to anyone who suffers from diabetes. There are several types, but all of them can result in vision loss and even blindness. At Eye Medical Clinic, your trusted vision specialists for more than 75 years, we care about you, your health, your eyes and your vision!
Facts About Diabetic Eye Disease
Diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of blindness in adults between the ages of 20 and 74. The National Eye Institute estimates that more than 7 million Americans have diabetic eye disease.
At any given time, people with diabetes can develop diabetic eye disease. When blood sugar levels remain elevated over a long period, complications can occur throughout your body. This includes your eyes!
What to Know About Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic Retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar levels cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina. These blood vessels can swell and leak, or even close, stopping blood from passing through. All of these changes result in vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy typically develops without any warning. Additionally, damage to the eye occurs slowly and is hard to detect without regular monitoring.
Diabetic macular edema is a complication of diabetic retinopathy. Damaged blood vessels swell and leak fluid into the macula (responsible for sharp, central vision). Over time, this swelling can lead to vision loss.
Our retina specialist Dr. Tamer Hadi loves to help patients navigate caring for their sight and managing their diabetes. Dr. Hadi is a board-certified ophthalmologist with focused fellowship training in the diagnosis and medical and surgical treatment of complex retinal conditions.
How is Diabetic Retinopathy Treated?
Treatment plans are highly individualized and will be based on your age, medical history, lifestyle and degree of retinal damage. In its earliest stages, diabetic retinopathy may not require treatment beyond regular monitoring by Dr. Hadi.
If you do require treatment, we will explain all options including risks, benefits and alternatives before starting the most appropriate treatment course for you. Medical management in the clinic typically includes intravitreal injections for diabetic macular edema and laser therapy to seal or shrink leaking blood vessels in a process called panretinal photocoagulation. In severe cases, the retina can become detached due to diabetic retinopathy and may require surgery.
Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (ANTI-VEGF)
This injection can help with two problems, reducing the number of abnormal blood vessels in the retina and also decreasing fluid.
Focal or Grid Laser
A laser used to seal a blood vessel that is leaking or to stimulate the cells under the retina to absorb the leaked fluid. In some cases, more than one treatment is needed.
Panretinal Photocoagulation (PRP) Laser
In cases where there are abnormal blood vessels, we may recommend panretinal photocoagulation (PRP). By using a laser, we can reduce growth of abnormal blood vessels, causing them to shrink.
For cases where the eye is filled with blood or in the case of retinal detachment, Dr. Hadi may recommend vitrectomy surgery. This surgery removes vitreous gel, blood and scar tissue in the back of the eye. We also use it to repair retinal detachments.
An Annual Eye Exam Can Save your Sight
If you have diabetic eye disease, you face a very real risk of having vision issues. But, take heart! It’s possible to reduce that risk by having an annual dilated eye exam. It can help detect things that a regular vision test cannot, including more serious vision problems.
Annual comprehensive eye exams can reveal hidden signs of disease, allowing for more timely treatment. This is why the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends people with diabetes have them once a year. Or more often as their eye doctor recommends.
At Eye Medical Clinic, our doctors have lots of experience in diagnosing and managing diabetic eye disease. If you have diabetes (even without eye symptoms), please schedule a comprehensive eye exam today to protect yourself from preventable vision loss. We want to help you See Every Moment.