Your diabetes can slowly be robbing you of your eyesight and you may not notice until the damage is severe. Having regular eye exams is important to stay ahead of any eye disease if you have diabetes, even if it's well under control. Here is how this disease affects your eyes and the treatments available to you.
Diabetes Targets the Blood Vessels in Your Eyes
The tiny blood vessels in your eyes can become weak and less flexible. They normally expand and contract easily as the blood flow through them fluctuates. Blood vessels damaged by diabetes may stay constricted, increasing the blood pressure in your eye. Other vessels swell, allowing blood to pool in them. This lack of flexibility is what hurts your vision.
There are two ways in which diabetes can damage your retina. Each can become so serious as to cause a loss of vision.
Nonproliferative retinopathy - Damaged blood vessels on the retina swell and let the fluid pool in them instead of smoothly moving through. This increases the pressure in the blood vessel. Fluid leaks out onto the surface of the retina under this pressure. The fluid builds up on the retina, blocking the light that hits it. Initially, your vision will become blurry. As more fluid collects on the retina, you'll begin to notice dark blotches and shadows in your vision.
Proliferative retinopathy - In later stages of diabetic retinopathy, new blood vessels develop on the retina. These vessels are small and weak. Some will produce scar tissue that pulls on the retina. When enough scar tissue develops, your retina can be pulled away from the back of your eye causing blindness.
Symptoms are Slow to Develop
The damage to your retina is slow and you may not notice any symptoms until you start to lose your vision. When symptoms do happens, they may include:
- blurry vision
- gray or black blotches
- tiny floaters in your vision
- pressure in the eyes
- aching in your eyes
Treatment of Diabetic Eye Damage
Diabetic retinopathy cannot be cured, but your doctor can slow down the progress and your loss of vision. Frequent eye exams to catch the disease early will prevent it from affecting your eyesight. Some of the treatment options available include:
- laser surgery to dry up the fluid that has leaked out onto the retina
- reduction of the pressure on the retina by removing some of the gel within the eyeball
- medication injections into the eye to limit the development of the new, weak blood vessels
These treatments cannot restore any vision that has already been lost. By controlling the pressure in your eye, the development of new blood vessels and the fluid on the retina, your doctor can prevent any future vision loss. For more information, visit sites like http://www.drgrantmdretinalspecialist.com.