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Given that approximately 11 percent of the U.S. population between 20 and 79 years old has diabetes, it is troubling that less than half of them know about the special risks to vision that diabetes brings with it. The most common issue is diabetic retinopathy, but other eye diseases can be associated with diabetes as well. Regular vision exams can catch these conditions before they progress, but only about two-thirds of people with diabetes get the recommended annual eye exam.
When diabetics have uncontrolled blood sugar levels, this can damage the walls of the blood vessels. In the eyes, this may lead to several issues. The damaged blood vessels may not supply the eyes with enough blood flow, or they may leak. In the later stages of the condition, new blood vessels grow but these blood vessels are especially prone to breaking and leaking blood into the eye.
At some point, all diabetics will have diabetic retinopathy. However, not all of them will experience troublesome symptoms. The most common symptoms associated with diabetic eye disease are:
Although any or all of these may be associated with diabetic retinopathy, they can also be caused by other conditions. A trained ophthalmologist can diagnose and treat the underlying cause in order to protect your vision, but you have to go to your yearly appointments so that they can do so.
Diabetic eye disease is usually not specifically treated in the early stages. It usually has no symptoms at this point. However, treatment that is aimed at reducing the progression of the disease is indicated, including any measures that help to control your diabetes. Some of these control methods that may also help slow the progression of diabetic eye disease include:
More advanced forms of the disease may be treated with lasers that seal blood vessels. This can be used to stop leaks or to close certain vessels so that more blood flows to the proper places. In extreme cases, a vitrectomy can be done to remove the gel-like vitreous humor from the eye if it becomes opaque with blood.
Eye Doctors of Arizona is your ophthalmologist in Phoenix, AZ. The father and son team of Dr. Warren Heller and Dr. Matthew Heller take pride in learning about the latest techniques and technologies in ophthalmology and provide treatment for almost all eye conditions, and regular vision exams are essential for your health. Call 602-257-8280 to schedule your next eye exam today.