We recommend yearly eye care for patients with diabetes. One-half of the 14 million people with diabetes have damage to their eyes that will potentially cause vision loss.
At first, diabetes may show up in your eyes, but may not be noticeable to your vision. In order to preserve your vision, it is important that we identify these changes early. With timely treatment, 90% of those with advance diabetic changes can be saved from going blind.
Diabetic retinopathy is the term given to diabetic changes in the eye. The beginning signs of diabetic retinopathy include changes to the tiny blood vessels in the retina including bleeds and micro aneurysm. Most people do not notice any changes in their vision at this point. Macular edema is a more visually noticeable change that occurs where the damaged blood vessels begin to leak fluid and proteins into the retina. As the disease advances, new blood vessels form inside the eye that leak and bleed.
If our doctors detect diabetic retinopathy in your eyes, they may recommend several different management options. For mild diabetic changes, we usually photograph the changes to the retina and monitor your vision more closely. More progressive retinopathy changes including macular edema usually require a referral to a retinal specialist for laser treatment.
Laser surgery done in a timely manner can reduce your chances of vision loss from macular edema by one half. During the surgery for macular edema, the specialist will aim a high-energy beam of light directly at the areas of damage. This focal laser treatment seals the blood vessels from leaking and stabilizes vision. Laser surgery that is required to destroy abnormal blood vessel growth uses scattered laser burns to help shrink these blood vessels. Normally laser surgery does not improve your overall vision, but may stabilize your vision from further problems.