Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes Mellitus involves blood vessels throughout the body, particularly in the retina. Diabetes is a disease in which the body has impaired the ability to use and store glucose. This results in abnormally high levels of glucose in the bloodstream. High glucose levels may damage the delicate cells of the retinal capillaries. Sometimes the capillaries become occluded and the retina is deprived of oxygen. In some eyes, the vessels walls become leaky and fluid seeps into the retinal tissue. This damage to retinal blood vessels is called diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic Retinopathy Diagram

There are two main types of diabetic retinopathy. The first is called background retinopathy and consists of leaky blood vessels and potential swelling of the retina, resulting in blurry vision. The second is called ‘proliferative retinopathy’ and is more advanced. In proliferative retinopathy, abnormal blood vessels form that may cause profound blurry vision by bleeding, scarring, or retinal detachment.

The longer one has diabetes, the higher the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Approximately 80% of people who have diabetes for 15 years or more have some damage to their retinal vessels. This risk of developing diabetic retina problems is greatly reduced with good blood glucose control. Controlling the blood sugars requires a healthy diet, exercise as possible, regular use of medication as prescribed, and close follow-up with the managing primary care or diabetic doctor.

Regular Orange County Retina exams are critical to the eye health of diabetics. Annual exams are recommended unless diabetic retina changes require more frequent exams.

Focal Laser

The Focal laser is used when an Orange County Retina patient has swelling within the retina due to fluid (edema). In diabetic retinopathy, vein occlusions and other vascular conditions of the retina, the blood vessels within the eye can become damaged, allowing fluid to leak into the retina. To prevent the continuous leaking of fluid into the retina, focal laser treatment may be recommended.

During the treatment, laser spots are placed in the area of the leaking vessels to seal them. Multiple studies have shown focal laser to be very effective in reducing swelling over time and either stabilizing or improving vision.

Are You Diabetic?

Diabetes & Your Eyes

Photo of Young WomanPeople living with diabetes live with many hardships and issues. It is safe to say that more attention to health detail is simply required by diabetics. According to the American Diabetes Association, there are over 23.6 million children and adults that suffer from diabetes. This constitutes an alarming 7.8% of the total US population. What many people do not realize about diabetes is the potential damage that this disease can do to once stable vision. If blood sugar levels increase and high levels are encountered, changes can occur in the optics of the eye, resulting in blurred vision. Diabetics are required to get dilated routine eye exams to monitor overall eye health.

If you are a diabetic you can significantly reduce the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy by using common sense and taking good care of yourself. The following list is an example of some good things that diabetics can practice that will help maintain proper eye health.

  • Stick to regular eye exams
  • Keep blood sugar under control.
  • Monitor blood pressure and keep it under control
  • Eat healthy and maintain proper diet
  • Exercise as directed by your physician

If vision becomes blurred, it becomes difficult to do close work such as reading, or if vision becomes spotty or hazy, a diabetic should see his or her eye doctor right away.

Diabetic eye disease typically involves a series of potential diseases and eye problems that occur as a result of a patient being diabetic. All of these diabetic eye diseases or issues can actually cause permanent vision loss due to the fact that they all focus around the area of the retina and the optic nerve. It is important to understand that the optic nerve is responsible for transmitting the images collected by the eye to the brain. Some of the main diabetic eye diseases include diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, retinal detachment, and even the development of cataract sooner than expected.

The most frequent visual impairments caused by diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, a condition in which changes occur in the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, small blood vessels weaken and leak fluid or tiny amounts of blood, which distort the retina slightly. If diabetic retinopathy is not diagnosed soon enough it will progress to a stage known as diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy can strike even with previous diagnosis and treatment. The chances of having some form of diabetic retinopathy increase the longer a person has had diabetes. It is estimated that 25% of people with diabetes have some level of retinopathy.