Diabetes can cause a variety of problems in the eye, usually due to poorly controlled blood sugar. High blood sugar due to diabetes can damage the walls of small blood vessels in the eyes leading to change in their function and structure known as diabetic retinopathy. As a result, the vessels may leak, thicken, close off, form clots, or grow bloated defects known as microaneurysms.
Some people also develop a condition called macular edema where fluid is accumulated in that part of the retina, which is used for central, precise vision. In advanced diabetes cases, the retina gets completely deprived of blood and generates new but defective vessels. This process is known as neovascularization. The delicate blood vessels of the eyes can bleed resulting in vision-threatening hemorrhages, retinal detachment, and scar tissues. The new defective vessels can also produce glaucoma as a result of fluid block. People with diabetes are also at risk development of cataracts.
Detecting eye problems
Any person who has diabetes must always have annual ophthalmological examinations where the doctor would check the retina with the aid of an ophthalmoscope. At times, the defects in the retina are not very obvious and warrant special tests. The doctor would dilate the pupils of the patient using eye drops and then employ a device called slit lamp to examine the retina closely. Another test called fluorescein angiography may also be used to check the function and structure of the retinal blood vessels. The test involves injecting a fluorescent dye in the veins and photographing the passage of the dye through the blood vessels. The doctor would also check for cataract formation around the eyes during the annual visits.
Treatment for diabetic eye problems
The problems need to be treated by both your ophthalmologist and medical doctor. The medical doctor would have to control your blood sugar levels to keep the problems at bay. Also if your cataract surgeon in Detroit feels a surgery is warranted, it is best to control the blood sugar, and treat the retina problems before cataract surgery.
Diabetic retinopathy can be treated through a surgery called vitrectomy to preserve the remaining vision. Another treatment called laser photocoagulation may also be recommended. This procedure is performed in Dr. Goldstein's office. You may sometimes have to wait months to verify whether the treatment is having a positive impact on your condition.
The best one can do to control diabetic eye diseases is keep the blood sugar under tight control. Also frequent eye examinations are a must to detect any slow retinal damage or formation of cataracts. High blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity and smoking can worsen diabetic eye diseases. So, target an overall good health and you can prevent or at least keep diabetic eye diseases under control.