Monday, November 14, 2011

Today is World Diabetes Day - What you should know about Diabetic Eye Care

Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults between ages 20 - 74. Today is World Diabetes Day, a day to bring awareness to the more than 25 million people in the United States living with diabetes. 

How does diabetes affect your vision? 
In diabetes, the blood sugar can get too high which can damage the blood vessels in your retina. This damage is known as diabetic retinopathy. 

The retina is a very thin layer of tissue covering the back inner wall of the eye. The retina converts light images into nerve impulses, which are sent along the optic nerve to be transmitted back to the brain to interpret. The macula is the central portion of the retina responsible for clear, detailed vision which is needed for activities such as reading and driving. The retina plays a very important role in eyesight. A damaged retina can leak fluid and will interfere with your sight, causing blurred vision and making it difficult to do close work, such as reading.

Who gets diabetic retinopathy?
Anyone who has diabetes. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you'll get it. Nearly half of all people with diabetes will develop some degree of the disease. 

What are symptoms?
During the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, there are typically no symptoms. In fact, symptoms may not appear even after severe damage has already been done to the eye. Routine eye exams by a licensed ophthalmologist will detect diabetic retinopathy during its early stages, when treatment is most effective.

How can it be prevented?
Retinopathy can possibly be prevented by having a dilated eye exam at least once a year, even if you have good vision. More frequent exams may be needed if you have eye disease. Tight control of blood glucose and blood pressure also has a tremendous impact on preventing this disease. 

How is Diabetic Retinopathy treated?

  • Laser treatment
  • Medication
    • Steroids
    • Avastin
    • Lucentis
    • New treatments being developed in clinical trials
  • Surgery

Tell us how you take control of your diabetes instead of letting it control you!