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People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing eye problems that can lead to vision loss and blindness – more than 40 percent of people with diabetes will develop some form of diabetic eye disease. Even further, diabetes is a leading cause of blindness in the United States.

Diabetic eye problems often develop without any noticeable vision loss or pain. This means the eye might already be significantly damaged by the time people notice any symptoms. For this reason, it is important for people with diabetes to have their eyes examined at least once a year. Early detection of diabetic eye disease can help prevent permanent damage.

 

Causes

Diabetic eye problems develop from high blood sugar levels, which can damage blood vessels in the eye. When there is too little oxygen in the bloodstream, blood vessel abnormalities occur, which can lead to hemorrhages and permanent damage to the retina.

The risk of diabetic eye problems can be reduced through regular diabetic eye exams and by controlling blood sugar levels through a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Diagnosis

Diabetic eye problems can be diagnosed with a comprehensive eye exam. People with diabetes need a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year or as soon as any potential problems are found. This can help ensure early detection of any serious diabetic eye problems. Early detection is the strongest protection against diabetic eye disease.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common type of diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in the United States. This condition is caused by blood vessel changes within the retina that lead to swelling and leaking of fluid. It can also cause growth of abnormal new blood vessels on the surface of the retina.

There are four stages of diabetic retinopathy, starting with the occurrence of microaneurysms (blood vessels that swell and leak) and ending with the development of abnormal blood vessels on the retinal surface. These blood vessels can easily leak fluid, causing severe vision loss and even blindness.

Sometimes, the fluid from abnormal blood vessels leaks into the center of the macula (the center of the retina) and causes swelling and blurred vision. This condition is called macular edema. The risk of developing macular edema increases as diabetic retinopathy progresses.

Treatments

Treatment for early stages of diabetic retinopathy and other forms of diabetic eye disease usually focuses on maintaining blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol at the healthiest levels possible in order to prevent permanent eye damage.

However, there are options available for relief from diabetic eye conditions at Oregon Eye Specialists. While these procedures cannot cure diabetic eye conditions, they can help reduce vision loss in advanced diabetic eye disease.

For more advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy, laser surgery is often effective in shrinking the abnormal blood vessels. Laser treatments can be done in your eye doctor’s office. They are done with anesthetic eye drops to minimize pain during the procedure. Patients may experience blurry vision for the rest of the day and should rest at home.

 

Our doctors are experienced in treating patients with diabetes. Contact Oregon Eye Specialists today to learn more about diabetic eye problems.

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