Preventing Diabetic Eye Disease
November is the month to focus on thankfulness, and good eyesight is certainly something to be thankful for. November is also Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month. If you are someone who lives with diabetes, you need to know about how this condition can negatively affect your eyesight.
There are a handful of different types of diabetic eye conditions, but all of them can result in irreversible vision loss. At Mann Eye Institute, Texans’ trusted vision specialists, we care about you, your health and your vision – this month and every month! Diabetic eye disease is a very real concern but, as with many eye diseases, prevention and early detection is the best way to protect your eyes for a lifetime.
DIABETIC EYE DISEASE – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
People with diabetes often have problems with the blood vessels in their eyes. If you look at the inside of a human eye, you will find the retina lining the back. This area detects light and shadows, sending visual information through the optical nerve to the brain. A healthy retina needs a steady supply of blood, rich in vital nutrients. Diabetes can cause blood vessel damage in the retina, which causes vision problems.
- Diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of blindness in adults between the ages of 20 and 74
- More than 7 million Americans have diabetic eye disease
- At any given time, people with diabetes can develop diabetic eye disease
RETINOPATHY: THE MOST COMMON DIABETIC EYE DISEASE
Diabetic retinopathy is when high blood sugar levels cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina. These blood vessels can swell and leak, or close altogether, stopping blood from passing through. All of these changes can result in vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy most often develops without any warning, and damage to the eye occurs slowly, making it hard to detect without regular monitoring. Diabetic macular edema is a complication of diabetic retinopathy. Damaged blood vessels can swell and leak fluid into the macula. Over time, this swelling, without treatment, will lead to vision loss.
Our experienced retina specialists work with many patients who have diabetes, helping them navigate caring for their sight and managing their diabetes. Dr. Amir Mohsenin is a board-certified ophthalmologist with focused fellowship training in the diagnosis and medical and surgical treatment of complex retinal conditions.
HOW IS DIABETIC RETINOPATHY TREATED?
In its earliest stages, diabetic retinopathy may not require treatment beyond regular monitoring by a trusted ophthalmologist. Treatment plans are highly individualized and will be based on your age, medical history, lifestyle and degree of retinal damage. If you do require treatment, we will explain all options including risks, benefits and alternatives before starting the most appropriate treatment course for you.
Medical management takes place right here in our Mann Eye Institute offices and most often includes intravitreal injections for diabetic macular edema and laser therapy to seal or shrink leaking blood vessels; a procedure called panretinal photocoagulation. In severe cases, the retina can become detached and require surgery.
CAN DIABETIC EYE DISEASE BE PREVENTED?
If you have diabetic eye disease, the reality is that you face a very real risk of having vision issues. But, it’s not inevitable. You can greatly reduce the risk of developing diabetic eye disease by having an annual dilated comprehensive eye exam.
“Mann Eye Institute has the latest diagnostic and therapeutic equipment and provides a comprehensive program for the diagnosis and treatment of diabetic eye disease.”
Dr. Amir Mohsenin, retina specialist at Mann Eye Institute
TIPS FOR PREVENTING DIABETIC EYE DISEASE
- Have an annual dilated eye exam. An annual comprehensive eye exam can help detect small changes within your eye that a regular vision test can’t, including more serious vision problems. These types of exams can uncover hidden signs of disease, allowing for earlier treatment. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends people have a comprehensive dilated eye exam once a year. And more often as their eye doctor recommends.
- Control your blood sugar. Most sight-threatening diabetic eye diseases begin with damage to the tiny blood vessels in your eye. Keeping your blood sugar within normal ranges through diet, exercise and prescribed medications can keep your blood vessels healthy and your eyes healthy!
- Monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Just like other blood vessels in your body, the delicate vessels in your eyes react negatively to elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol regularly and taking steps to control both can help protect your eyes.
- Adopt a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Good nutrition and regular exercise help control your diabetes, which will greatly benefit your eye health.
SEE LIFE BETTER IN EVERY SEASON
At Mann Eye Institute, it is our goal that every patient we serve will See Life Better with the vision they deserve. Our caring doctors have extensive experience in the diagnosis and management of diabetic eye disease.
If you have diabetes (even if you don’t currently have any symptoms affecting your vision), schedule a comprehensive eye exam today to protect yourself from preventable vision loss.