November marks Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month, which begs the question: Are you aware of the ocular conditions that threaten people with diabetes? A lot of people — even those with diabetes — do not realize just how important it is to monitor their eye health. To better educate patients in Florida, the expert ophthalmologists and optometrists at St. Michael’s Eye & Laser Institute explain what everyone should know about diabetic eye disease.
Diabetic Retinopathy Can Rob You of Your Vision
Diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of blindness in the U.S. It affects about one in four American adults who have diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when spikes in blood sugar levels harm the blood vessels in the retina, which can cause blood to leak into the eye. Unfortunately, the eye may start to generate new blood vessels to try to correct the problem, but it usually only exacerbates the problems.
Treatments Are Available
At St. Michael’s Eye & Laser Institute, we offer a few different types of treatment that can slow or stop diabetic retinopathy from getting worse. A laser surgery known as photocoagulation can seal leaky blood vessels in the eye to prevent further fluid release. Some patients can also benefit from injectable medications that reduce macular swelling. For advanced cases, vitrectomy may be the best option. This surgery removes the blood that has leaked into the eye so that light can reach the retina unobstructed.
Of course, preventing diabetic retinopathy is an even better route than treatment. People who control their blood sugar levels are at a much lower risk for diabetic retinopathy. Our doctors suggest quitting smoking and monitoring blood pressure and blood sugar levels to their patients with diabetes.
Other Diabetes-Related Eye Diseases
Unfortunately, diabetic retinopathy is not the only reason people with diabetes need to prioritize their ocular health. Diabetes increases a person’s risk for other debilitating eye conditions such as diabetic macular edema, glaucoma, and cataracts. Macular edema is a swelling of the retina; glaucoma is an accumulation of pressure in the eye that permanently steals vision; and cataracts are clumps of proteins that cause hazy vision. All these conditions should be treated by doctors.
What to Do If You Have Diabetes
If you have diabetes, it is important that you are aware of how much more susceptible you are to conditions that can damage your sight and the health of your eyes. The best thing you can do is to undergo regular comprehensive eye examinations and to form a relationship with a skilled eye doctor who can monitor your eyes and check for any changes.
In between visits, if you notice symptoms like floaters, ocular discomfort, or any sudden change in your vision, please request an appointment immediately. Call (727) 585-2200 to receive care from talented eye doctors in Tampa Bay, FL.