It’s Diabetic Eye Disease Month. Do Your Eyes Need Help?
At the Eye Institute of Houston, we value optimal outcomes for all of our patients. This is why our facility has been equipped with proven systems for addressing all levels of optical and ophthalmic care. November is Diabetic Eye Disease Month, which leads us to want to turn our attention toward the very important matter of eye health as it relates to diabetes.
How Diabetic Eye Disease Progresses
When blood sugar is chronically high or varies significantly from low to high, the tiny blood vessels in the eye sustain damage. These blood vessels are situated around the retina, the structure at the back of the eye on which light lands and travels through the optic nerve to the brain. Damage to these vessels may occur slowly, which means we have time to address the condition and preserve vision. However, the slow progression of diabetic eye disease also means there are very few symptoms to alert a person of the critical changes happening in their eye. The stages of diabetic eye disease include:
- Mild non-proliferative retinopathy. In this early stage, blood vessels develop small areas of swelling, like an air bubble in a balloon. This swelling causes subtle bleeding and fluid leaking into the retina, but no obvious symptoms.
- Moderate non-proliferative retinopathy. A secondary stage of eye disease involves a decrease in blood flow at the back of the eye. This results from swelling and distortion in the tiny blood vessels of the retina. Without adequate circulation, the retina begins to change.
- Severe non-proliferative retinopathy is a stage in which growth factors are produced by the malnourished eye to increase circulation. These growth factors cause new blood vessels to grow in the retina and the vitreous cavity.
- Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy is an advanced stage of eye disease in which newly formed blood vessels, also fragile due to disease, leak blood and fluid into tissue on and around the retina. Scar tissue may also form due to blood vessel breakage and pull on the retina. This is known as retinal detachment.
- Macular edema may develop when fluid causes the center of the retina (macula) to thicken. Macular edema may severely distort central vision.
Preserving Lifelong Vision
We don’t want to paint a picture of doom and gloom for every diabetic. The truth is, there are ways to reduce the risk of diabetic eye disease. The first is to manage blood sugar with help from a medical team or nutritionist if necessary. The second is to obtain yearly dilated eye exams from a board-certified ophthalmologist who is familiar with diabetic retinopathy.
Is it time for your dilated eye exam? Call the Eye Institute of Houston at (713) 668-7337 for friendly, professional care.