Diabetes and your Eyes
There is a group of eye conditions that people may suffer from as a complication of their Diabetes. All of these conditions can cause severe vision loss or even blindness.
Conditions that you may be faced with are Diabetic Retinopathy, Cataract or Glaucoma.
What is Glaucoma?
Please see our information for Glaucoma under the Eye Diseases tab on the homepage of the Image Eyewear website, or click on the word Glaucoma to direct you to the information provided.
What is a Cataract?
Please see our information for Cataract under the Eye Diseases tab on the homepage of the Image Eyewear website, or click on the word Cataract to direct you to the information provided.
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic Retinopathy is a condition that damages the Retina. It is caused by the high and fluctuating blood sugar levels of Diabetes.
Diabetic Retinopathy can cause reduced vision and blindness, especially at the condition progresses and it will normally affect both eyes.
The chances of a diabetic developing Diabetic Retinopathy will depend on the duration of the diabetes, the control of blood sugar levels and the control of other vascular risk factors.
If you have Diabetes, annual comprehensive dilated eye examinations should be done with your Optometrist. This will put into place a management plan for you and give you the best opportunity for an early detection of any changes.
What causes Diabetic Retinopathy?
In some cases of Diabetic Retinopathy, blood vessels may become swollen and will leak fluid, however in other cases abnormal new blood vessels can grow on the surface of the Retina. It can also be caused due to damage to cells in your eyes as oxygen and nutrients are not provided to the Retina as needed, causing reduced function or failure of the Retina, affecting your vision.
What are the Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy?
Many people who suffer with Diabetic Retinopathy experience no symptoms and no pain. If the condition progresses, people can experience blurred vision, floaters or even sudden severe loss of vision in either one, or both eyes.
In more advanced cases new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina, they can bleed into the eye and in doing so, can block vision. If bleeding occurs, your will first see a few specks of blood, or spots that appear to be floating around in your vision. If you notice spots appearing in your vision you should make an appointment to see your Optometrist as soon as possible. You may require treatment before the bleeding becomes more serious. Haemorrhages can happen more than once and will often occur during sleep.
Occasionally the “floaters” can clear and you will see better without treatment. Bleeding can reoccur though and cause severely blurred vision. You should be seen as soon as possible by your Optometrist if you experience any blurred vision.
How is Diabetic Retinopathy Treated?
In most cases of Diabetic Retinopathy, while in the early stages, no treatment is necessary. However, it is highly important that annual comprehensive dilated examinations are performed by your Optometrist, to record, review, investigate or refer if necessary.
Once the condition advances there are other forms of treatment that may be used and discussed with you. New forms of treatment include injecting drugs into the eye to reduce swelling in the retina and suppress new vessel growth. This is similar to the treatment of Wet Macular Degeneration.
Other treatments used may be:
Laser Treatment – The patient wears a special contact lens that the laser treatment is performed throug. It is a day clinic procedure, meaning that the patient can return home the same day. It is not usual for this treatment to cause any pain. The laser is used to treat areas of the Retina with small burns to prevent new blood vessels growing and in turn can prevent new growth. Patients will usually need repeating treatment, although if Diabetic Retinopathy is already at an advanced state before laser treatment commences, it can make no significant difference and blindness can occur.
Surgical Treatment – This is generally only used in the most advanced cases of Diabetic Retinopathy where severe bleeding, scar formation or retinal detachment has occurred. Surgery is usually only performed at the last stages to try and prevent blindness.
This is general information only and in no way replaces specialist advice. If you are Diabetic, have your eyes checked every year, even if you have not noticed any symptoms or changes.