DIABETIC EYE CARE
Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication in diabetes and is a leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. In some people with diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels may swell and leak fluid and/or blood. In other people, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. These blood vessels are very weak and frequently break. When this occurs, scar tissue results both in the retina and the vitreous in front of the retina. Scar tissue can then lead to detachment of the retina resulting in devastating and rapid vision loss. The retina is the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. A healthy retina is necessary for good vision. If you have diabetic retinopathy, at first you may not notice changes to your vision. But over time, diabetic retinopathy can get worse and cause vision loss. This condition usually affects both eyes.
All people with diabetes, both type 1 and type 2, are at risk. That is why everyone with diabetes should get a comprehensive dilated eye examination at least once a year. The longer someone has diabetes, the more likely he or she will get diabetic retinopathy. Between 40 to 45 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some stage of this condition. If you have diabetic retinopathy, your primary care doctor can recommend treatment to help prevent its progression.
The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial showed that better control of blood sugar levels slow the onset and progression of retinopathy. The people with diabetes who kept their blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible also had much less kidney and nerve damage. Better control also reduces the need for sight-saving laser surgery. This level of blood sugar control may not be best for everyone, including some elderly patients, children under 13, or people with heart disease. Be sure to ask your primary care doctor if such a control program is right for you. Other studies have shown that controlling elevated blood pressure and cholesterol can reduce the risk of vision loss. Controlling these will help your overall health as well as protect your vision.