Diabetic Eye Care

Diabetes mellitus is a condition of poor blood glucose regulation due to inadequate insulin or resistance to insulin. After prolonged poor glucose control, complications can occur which can cause vision loss or blindness. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the blood vessels that nourish the retina begin to deteriorate and leak fluid or blood. If this continues, the dysfunctional blood vessels begin to grow abnormal blood vessels (neovascularization) which make things worse. Neovascularization can lead to glaucoma, retinal scarring and retinal detachments. Once there is damage to the retina, it is permanent thus treatment is focused on early detection and slowing the progression of disease. There is no cure. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among American adults.

Dr. Timothy O'Boyle, M.D. and Dr. Brian Kim, M.D. are our ophthalmologists who specialize in the treatment of diabetic eye disease.

Symptoms

Did you know that as a diabetic, you can have perfect 20/20 vision and still have bleeding in the retina from diabetic retinopathy? Once the disease process progresses, the bleeding may worsen and cause vision loss. If you have already lost vision, it will be much more difficult to restore the vision since retinal damage is permanent. This is why the American Diabetic Association and the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommend diabetic patients to have a yearly comprehensive eye examination to evaluate the health of the retinas. It is much easier to manage the eyes when there is very little to no damage. And if there is evidence for bleeding, we will notify your primary doctor who will work with you to tighten the blood sugars more aggressively. If you are experiencing any vision loss, contact us as soon as possible.

Images Via National Institutes of Health

Treatment

As stated, damage caused by diabetic retinopathy cannot be reversed or cured, but further damage and vision loss can be controlled by managing your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Yearly and regular eye exams are critical to watch out for damage to the eyes. Progressive worsening of bleeding and swelling requires more invasive eye treatments including injections and surgery.
 

Treatment options include:

  • Laser surgery: Lasers are used to seal broken blood vessels and to eliminate abnormal blood vessels
  • Intravitreal Avastin or Lucentis injections for anti-VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor) treatment. Other treatments are actively being researched.
  • Vitrectomy: A surgical procedure to repair retinal detachment or to stop bleeding within the eye. This procedure would require a referral to a retinal surgeon.

More Information

For more information about diabetic retinopathy and your treatment options, please see our Diabetic Retinopathy Frequently Asked Questions page.

If you live in the Northwest Georgia area, and have diabetes, please contact us to schedule your eye exam. We will answer any questions you have, and we look forward to serving you.

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