Eye Care for Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetics
Whether you were born with diabetes or developed this condition later in life, it is extremely important to have regular eye exams to monitor the health of your eyes. High blood glucose levels cause damage to the blood vessels throughout the body – including the eyes. When the blood vessels in your retina (the back lining of your eye) are damaged, this is called diabetic retinopathy.
What Happens in Diabetic Retinopathy
Damaged blood vessels in the retina may cause them to leak fluid or blood and grow scar tissue. By damaging the retina, your eyes can no longer effectively detect visual images and transmit them to the brain – affecting your vision. In fact, diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. The longer you have diabetes, the higher the incidence of developing diabetic retinopathy.
Two Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy
- Early Diabetic Retinopathy: In the early stage, you may not realize that you have this disease because there are usually no symptoms. An eye exam is the only way to diagnose any changes occurring in your retina: the weakening of blood vessels leading to leaking of fluid and blood into the retina.
- Advanced Diabetic Retinopathy: In response to the damaged blood vessels, your body attempts to replace them by growing new ones. However, these blood vessels are abnormal and fragile. They may bleed, causing vision to become hazy or totally lost. This can also lead to retinal detachment, a medical emergency.
Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy
With regular monitoring of the disease and treatment, only a small percentage of those with diabetic retinopathy have serious vision problems today. Treatment can help slow the progressing damage to the blood vessels.
- Laser treatment: laser burns to shrink abnormal blood vessels or stop fluid/blood leaks
- Vitrectomy: blood and scar tissue are removed from the vitreous gel in the eye
- Medications: steroids or anti-VEGF injections may stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels
If you are diabetic in Grand Rapids or Hibbing, we urge you to have regular eye exams with our team of experts.
We’d Love to Tell You More About Diabetic Retinopathy
We invite you to schedule an eye exam so we can assess your vision for signs of diabetic retinopathy so early treatment can be administered. During your visit to our practice, you will learn why so many people trust our team to protect their precious eyesight.