What is diabetic eye disease?

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that is caused by abnormal changes in the retina. The retina is the sensitive tissue at the back of the eye that senses light and helps to send images to your brain. In diabetes, the blood vessels in the retina may leak fluid or blood and grow fragile abnormal new blood vessels and scar tissue. This can cause permanent vision loss.

Another complication of diabetic retinopathy is macular edema. Fluid can leak into the center of the macula, the part of the eye where sharp, straight ahead vision occurs. This condition can occur at any stage of diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of new blindness among adults in the United States. People with untreated diabetes are said to be 25 times more at risk for blindness than the general population. Today, with improved methods of diagnosis and treatment, only a small percentage of people who develop diabetic retinopathy have serious vision problems. With careful monitoring, treatment can be started before your eyesight is affected.

How is diabetic retinopathy treated?

In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, no treatment is usually needed unless you have macular edema. To prevent diabetic retinopathy from getting worse, patients with diabetes should control their levels of blood sugar, blood pressure and blood cholesterol in coordination with their primary care provider.

For those who need treatment for macular edema, specific eye injections for diabetic eye disease may be used. Sometimes surgery is recommended to fix leaking blood vessels. Early detection, timely treatment and appropriate follow-up care of diabetic eye disease can protect against vision loss.

Alliance Ophthalmology has the tools necessary to monitor and manage your eyes for diabetic eye disease. If you would like to schedule an appointment for a medical eye exam, please contact us today at 817-442-2020