Diabetes is a common disease in the United States, but did you know that diabetic eye disease is the most common cause of blindness in the US? Regular eye examinations are important in diabetes because diabetic eye disease and the vision loss caused by it can be seen during a comprehensive eye examination.
Diabetic Eye CareThe retina lines the back of your eye like wallpaper. It is like the film in a camera it as it detects the light entering your eye and turns it into pictures for your brain to see. When the retina’s blood vessels are damaged, the retina stops working properly, and sight can be lost. After being exposed to high sugar levels for a long time, the blood vessels in the retina develop some weak spots along the blood vessels, and are called microaneurysms. Sometimes the microaneurysms rupture, and blood spills into the retina to form small hemorrhages. Most people with diabetes get these small changes in their eyes after having diabetes for 7 years or more. Diabetic retinopathy is a sign that your retina’s blood vessels are sick.
If enough of the blood vessels rupture, the retina may not receive enough blood to keep it healthy. In this case, the retina will try to grow new blood vessels to replace the sick ones. Unfortunately, these new blood vessels usually grow in the wrong places. They are fragile, and they break easily, sometimes spilling enough blood to fill up the eye. When these new blood vessels begin to grow, it is called proliferative diabetic eye disease. Proliferative diabetic eye disease is less common than background diabetic eye disease, but is much more likely to take away some or all of your vision. If it is caught early before your vision is damaged proliferative diabetic eye disease can be treated with laser therapy to save your vision. Once the vision is lost, it is very hard to get it back. If you have background diabetic retinopathy and early proliferative diabetic retinopathy you may not have any symptoms. The only way to know if you have these changes and need laser therapy to save your sight is to visit your eye doctor regularly. People with diabetes should have their eyes examined at least once a year to make sure they do not have early damage that threatens their vision.
Dr. Saeed partners with area ophthalmologists to co-manage diabetic retinopathy. During his exams, Dr. Saeed can dilate the eye to look for signs of bleeds and other symptoms of diabetic retinopathy. He can also send reports to your endocrinologist or general practitioner in order to maintain a comprehensive continuity of care of your diabetes.