Diabetic Eye Disease

Treat Diabetic Retinopathy and More at Green Apple Eye Care

What is Diabetic Eye Disease?

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Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of eye problems that people with diabetes may face as a complication of diabetes. All of these diseases can potentially cause severe vision loss or even blindness.

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

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Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina.

The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, which then transfers images to your brain through your optic nerve. There are two parts: the peripheral retina and the macula. The peripheral retina is responsible for our peripheral vision (seeing out of the corner of your eye) and the macula is responsible for our central vision (seeing detail like reading a watch, dialing a phone, recognizing a face or driving).

Diabetic patients can develop two kinds of Diabetic Retinopathy:

  1. Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR)—this occurs when the blood vessels in your retina develop tiny leaks. This fluid or blood seeps into the retina, especially the macula, causing the macula to become wet and swollen. This, in turn, causes blurring of your central vision.
  2. Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR)—this occurs when the blood vessels in your retina become obstructed. These blood vessels are in charge of bringing oxygen and nutrients to the eye. So, when they become obstructed, your body is forced to foster the proliferation, or reproduction of, abnormal new blood vessels. This can cause bleeding scar tissue, or retinal detatchment resulting in severe vision loss or total blindness!

Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes.

Who is at risk for diabetic retinopathy?

All people with diabetes – both Type 1 and Type 2 – are at risk. That is why everyone with diabetes should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year.

The longer someone has diabetes, the more likely he or she will develop diabetic retinopathy. Approximately 40 to 45 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some stage of diabetic retinopathy. If you have diabetic retinopathy, Dr. Memmen can recommend treatment to help prevent its progression.

Can diabetic retinopathy be treated?

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Yes! Eye laser surgery can prove very beneficial to those suffering from diabetic retinopathy. Our eye doctor typically performs the laser treatment right in the office.

For people with Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR), the laser heat either seals the leaks or reduces the leaking in the blood vessels. This allows the macula to dry.

For people with Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR), the laser destroys the diseased portion of the retina, causing the abnormal blood vessels to stop growing, become inactive and sometimes even disappear. This eye laser surgery also reduces the chances of those abnormal blood vessels to reappear.

Even after laser surgery or other treatments, diabetes can continue to damage the retina.  Therefore, Dr. Memmen will advise a wellness schedule personalized to your needs in order to maintain optimal eye health.

What can I do to protect my vision?

If you have diabetic retinopathy you may not notice changes to your vision in its early stages. However, over time, it can get worse and cause vision loss. This is why it is crucial for diabetic patients to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam every year.

If you notice any changes in your vision, contact Green Apple Eye Care to schedule an appointment with Dr. Memmen immediately.

Also, the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) showed that better control of blood sugar levels slows 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 disease. Better control also reduces the need for sight-saving laser surgery.