Diabetes occurs when a person’s body is unable to control blood sugar in a normal fashion. With type 1 diabetes, it doesn’t produce enough insulin and their blood sugar is then allowed to reach dangerously high levels. With type 2 diabetes, they produce enough insulin but the body is unable to utilize it so it responds by producing more insulin. Blood sugar levels may reach abnormal levels in response.
Whenever there is too much sugar in the blood, it interferes with normal blood flows, especially in tiny blood vessels like those found in the retina of the eye. While this can result in complete vision loss, in about 90% of cases, vision loss can be prevented with a good diet, plenty of exercise, keeping blood sugar levels at normal levels and receiving regular eye examinations that catch problems as soon as they start.
DIABETIC EYE SYMPTOMS
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you should be very alert for any of these symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Floaters (threadlike shapes passing through your vision)
- Shadows in your field of view
- Eye pain
- Light flashes
Another symptom of diabetic eye problems is sudden vision loss. But remember, good care for your overall health and your eyes can prevent this for most people.
While some people with diabetes may develop cataracts or glaucoma, a condition called diabetic retinopathy is more common. As blood sugar interferes with the retina’s blood vessels, they become weakened and begin to leak, forming small hemorrhages. The retina may begin to swell.
As the condition progresses, the body tries to grow new blood vessels but they will be fragile and leak blood into the clear fluid that fills the eye. Finally, this condition can cause the retina to detach from the back of the eye or even damage the optic nerve.
DIAGNOSIS OF DIABETIC EYE PROBLEMS
As you can see, diabetic eye problems can get very serious. To check for these problems, your doctor will photograph the back of your eye with a special camera to look for changes.
Another test involves injecting a dye into the blood so problems in these blood vessels can be detected.
TREATING DIABETIC EYE PROBLEMS
It’s vital to follow your recommended schedule of eye exams so treatment can be started immediately if problems show up.
Treatment may consist of using a laser to make more than a thousand tiny burns in the outer edges of the retina. The purpose of these burns is to close up damaged blood vessels. Some of the peripheral vision is lost but this treatment can halt the progression of diabetic retinopathy. This treatment is called pan retinal photocoagulation.
If too much blood has already leaked from these tiny arteries into the fluid that fills the eye – called vitreous gel – this gel must be removed and replaced with sterile saline solution. This procedure is called vitrectomy surgery.
At St. Michael’s Eye & Laser Institute, Dr. John Michaelos, his father Dr. John Michaelos and their colleagues are ready to help you protect and preserve your eyesight. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, please contact us so we can help you with regular examinations that detect problems as soon as they show up. Please call 727-500-2020 today to schedule an appointment.