Diabetes is a serious and chronic disease that casts a wide net over your health — quite literally, from your head to your toes. Incredibly, one in three people with diabetes has some degree of retinopathy by the age of 40, which is one of four main concerns when it comes to diabetes and eye disease.
The highly qualified and integrated team of eye specialists here at Suburban Eye Associates understands the connection between diabetes and your eye health better than most, which is why we offer specialized diabetic eye disease services.
Whether you’ve been newly diagnosed or you’ve had diabetes for some time now, it’s worth understanding the clear and present danger that diabetes poses to your eye health.
As we mentioned, diabetic retinopathy is a common eye disease among diabetics. When it comes to how well you see, your retinas play crucial roles as they provide the critical link between your eyes and your brain. More specifically, your retinas absorb light and send the information through your optic nerve to your brain, which translates the signal into an image.
When you have diabetes, high levels of glucose can build up in your blood vessels, which can cause damage, especially to highly sensitive blood vessels in your eyes.
With diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels in your eye can weaken, bulge, or leak into your retinas. As the problem progresses, these blood vessels may shut off, which leads to the creation of newer, weaker blood vessels to form on your retinas, which can greatly interfere with your vision.
Diabetic macular edema
Each of your retinas contain a macula, which is responsible for much of the accuracy in your vision, such as small details, colors, or faces.
Diabetes can cause your macula to swell, in one or both eyes, which can increasingly influence your ability to see clearly.
In the simplest of definitions, glaucoma occurs when there’s too much intraocular pressure in your eye, which can damage your optic nerve. When you have diabetes, your chances of developing glaucoma are twofold that of someone who doesn’t have diabetes.
This eye disease is incredibly common and occurs when the lenses in your eyes start to cloud over, which typically happens with age. If you have diabetes, your risks for developing cataracts at an earlier age are increased.
Treating your diabetic eye disease
One of the most important steps you can take to prevent eye disease from robbing you of your vision is to come see us regularly for specialized diabetic eye disease exams. Even if we find no evidence of an eye disease, you have peace of mind knowing that diabetic specialists are safeguarding your vision.
Also, because all of the conditions we describe above occur gradually, the sooner we’re able to identify the problem, the better we’re able to slow or halt the eye disease. To give you an idea of the many treatment options, we may recommend one or more of the following, depending upon which eye disease is developing:
- Managing blood sugar levels
- Lowering cholesterol or blood pressure
- Quitting smoking
- Laser treatments
- Surgical procedures, such as cataract surgery
If you’d like to learn more about the connection between diabetes and your eye health, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our locations in Huntingdon Valley, Jenkintown, or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to set up a consultation.