HEALTHY RETINA DAMAGED RETINA
Most people are probably completely unaware that diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in America. In fact, approximately 10 million Americans have diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic Retinopathy is an eye condition in which blood vessels inside the retina become damaged due to diabetes. A healthy retina is crucial to having good vision.
Unfortunately, there are no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. As a result, every person with diabetes should have yearly dilated eye examinations.
A couple of years ago, I had a patient that came to me complaining that his vision had been blurry for about 3 months and that he was in need of new glasses. During the examination, I noticed several retinal blood vessels that were leaking as well as some retinal swelling. Unfortunately, I was unable to improve his vision with corrective lenses. Laser treatment had to be performed to stop the leakage initially and the patient was referred to his primary care physician to further evaluate and manage his blood sugar level. This particular gentleman had not been to see his eye doctor for 2 years because he felt that there was no need to have an exam since he was seeing well with his glasses. I highly recommend yearly eye exams and ask your eye doctor to send a report back to your primary care physician.
Important factors to remember:
-Rapid changes in blood sugar can cause fluctuating vision
-Pregnant women with diabetes must have a dilated eye exam in their first trimester to reduce the complication of retinopathy
-There is increased chance of developing cataracts (clouding of the eye lens and decreasing visual acuity) and glaucoma (increased pressure of the eye) with diabetes.
Lower blood sugar levels can delay the onset and slow the progression of diabetic eye diseases. Regular eye exams are critical in the management of these conditions.