Diabetic Eye Disease Overview
Diabetes can damage the whole body, even robbing the eyes of sight. Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness caused when blood vessels swell and leak. In advanced diabetic retinopathy, abnormal new blood vessels can grow on the retina. These two conditions can cause scarring and eventual retina detachment.
If diabetic retinopathy is caught early, there is a 90% chance of saving vision. It is critical for people with diabetes to get annual dilated eye exams. While complications cannot always be prevented, risks can be lowered with good diabetic management and early detection.
The chances of developing a cataract (clouding of the lens) are double for a person with diabetes. Glaucoma, which is caused by increased fluid pressure inside the eye, damages the optic nerve and leads to vision loss. Glaucoma is also twice as likely to strike an adult with diabetes.
Treatments and Services
- visual acuity test - using an eye chart to measure vision close and far
- pupil dilation - eye drops open the pupil for a close-up examination of the eye's retina.
- tonometry - a standard test to determine the fluid pressure inside the eye
- ophthalmoscopy - a physician uses a special magnifying glass for a detailed examination of the retina.
- laser surgery – in advanced diabetic retinopathy, laser surgery can prevent the development of abnormal blood vessels and shrink those that are already present.
- Injections of medications into the eye can reduce swelling and the abnormal blood vessel growth.
- vitrectomy - a type of procedure that involves removing the cloudy vitreous (the clear, jellylike substance that fills the center of the eye) and replacing it with a salt solution. Vitrectomies are particularly effective in persons with insulin-dependent diabetes, with advanced diabetic retinopathy, and who are at a greater risk of blindness due to a hemorrhage scarring in the eye.