A diabetes diagnosis often shines a spotlight on other aspects of your health. Most people face the need to make immediate lifestyle changes to help improve the effectiveness of their diabetes management plan, and it is common to suddenly begin to worry about your eyesight. Diabetes can lead to the development of several serious eye conditions that impact your vision, but it doesn’t have to end with the worst-case scenario. Instead, learning how diabetes is linked to eye health puts you in the driver’s seat for preserving your vision.
Understanding Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetes is linked to several eye conditions that include glaucoma and cataracts. However, diabetic retinopathy is the condition that most commonly comes to mind when people talk about blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar levels stay too high for too long, the condition can cause damage to the small blood vessels in your eyes. The damaged blood vessels might leak as they swell, and your body might even try to grow new vessels in an attempt to counteract the problem. Unfortunately, even the new vessels aren’t usually able to provide the blood flow your retinas need to work properly, and you can develop blurriness and other vision changes that make it hard to function.
Lowering Your Risk for Diabetes-Related Eye Diseases
Hearing that you are now at greater risk for developing certain eye diseases is disheartening, but you don’t have to let it cause you extreme daily stress. Instead, you can work with an eye specialist to begin finding preventative treatments. Maintaining good blood sugar levels is the most effective way to prevent diabetic eye disease. You can also quit smoking, stay active and eat a nutritious diet to help keep good blood flow going to your eyes. You may also need to step up the frequency of your eye exams and opt for dilation. Being able to see deeply into your eyes helps your eye care provider determine if new damage occurs.
Exploring Treatment Options for Diabetic Eye Conditions
Diabetic retinopathy typically occurs in two main stages. In the first stage, you may develop macular edema, which is swelling in your retina. If the disease progresses, then you could begin to develop severe and potentially permanent vision changes that include blind spots, distortion, seeing flashers and floaters along with experiencing difficultly with reading or doing fine detailed work that requires seeing small things close up. At both stages, your Brooklyn retina doctor can work with you to find an appropriate treatment that helps improve your ability to see. Laser therapy is one type of treatment that tends to offer excellent results, and the procedure can often be completed in our office in a single day. Special medications can also be injected into the retina to further reduce inflammation and swelling.
As a person with diabetes, you’ll need to come in for dilation eye exams more often than you might have done before. In most cases, you should see an eye specialist as soon as possible after you receive a diabetes diagnosis. Together, you and your eye doctor can work out a plan that prevents you from losing your vision.