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Diabetic Eye Care

Diabetics may develop an eye condition called diabetic retinopathy. This damages small blood vessels in the retina, the part of the eye that captures images and sends the information to your brain. Diabetic retinopathy can reduce vision or even cause blindness. By keeping blood sugar and blood pressure levels near normal, diabetics can slow the progress of retinopathy and help prevent their own vision loss.

What is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is progressive. It begins when the tiny blood vessels in the eye weaken. The blood vessels later develop small bulges that may burst and leak into the retina and the natural fluid inside the eye known as vitreous gel.

New weak blood vessels grow on the retinal surface and may break easily and bleed into the eye. This is called proliferative retinopathy. The bleeding can cloud your vision and cause scar tissue to form. This can cause swelling or force the retina to detach from the eye wall.

Common symptoms

Most often, there are no early symptoms of diabetic retinopathy. Unfortunately, most people do not notice symptoms until significant damage has occurred and complications have developed.

If the disease is allowed to progress without treatment, permanent retinal damage can develop, leading to severe vision loss or even blindness. That’s why St. Paul Eye Clinic strongly recommends regular exams to identify diabetic retinopathy in its earliest stages and help prevent vision loss.

The importance of checkups

Regular checkups can detect retinopathy before it does severe damage to vision. The American Diabetes Association recommends that screening begin at age 10 or within three to five years after the diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes, immediately after diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, and during the first three months of pregnancy for a woman who has diabetes. St. Paul Eye Clinic recommends an eye exam immediately after you’ve been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

Diabetics should have their eyes examined by an eye specialist (ophthalmologist or optometrist) annually, even if they do not have any symptoms. We may decide that you should be examined more often, depending on the results of your initial exam.

Unfortunately, many diabetics skip their yearly eye exams. As a result, they do not learn that they have the condition until significant vision loss has already occurred.

Is diabetic retinopathy preventable?

You can prevent vision loss caused by diabetic retinopathy. Keep your blood sugar levels and blood pressure near normal. This reduces your chance of damaging small blood vessels and decreases your risk of damaging the retina. It can also help slow the progression of retinopathy, if you already have it, and prevent future vision loss. Vision loss and blindness can be prevented with early detection, treatment, and careful long-term follow-up by St. Paul Eye Clinic.

We use laser treatment (photocoagulation) because it is effective in preventing vision loss if it is done before severe retinal damage has occurred. Surgical removal of the vitreous gel, or vitrectomy, may also improve vision if there has not been severe retinal damage.

Don’t Take Chances with Your Precious Vision

Early diagnosis and treatment of diabetic retinopathy are paramount to preserving your eyesight. Call today and schedule your appointment at the St. Paul Eye Clinic nearest you or request an appointment online.

Diabetic Eye Care at St. Paul Eye Clinic