What To Think About
Pan-retinal laser treatment is used to treat several spots on the retina during one or, most often, two sessions. It reduces the risk of serious bleeding and the progression of severe proliferative retinopathy.
Laser photocoagulation can result in some loss of vision, because it destroys some of the nerve cells in the retina and can cause the abnormal blood vessels to go away. With pan-retinal photocoagulation, this most often affects the outside vision, because the laser is directed at that area. Your vision may be worse right after treatment. But vision loss caused by laser treatment is mild compared with the vision loss that may be caused by untreated retinopathy.
What About Laser Treatment For Diabetic Eye Disease
Fortunately the armamentarium for combating diabetic retinopathy is growing with more awareness, better capabilities for detecting early disease, the growing emphasis for better blood sugar control, and better ways of treating diabetic eye disease. Observation is often possible in patients with diabetic retinopathy who may continue to enjoy good vision for years. However medical management of diabetes during early retinopathy is extremely important and should include: keeping down blood sugars as much as safely possible, eating a well balanced diet, cessation of smoking, losing weight, controlling other medical problems such as hypertension, elevated lipids, etc.
If diabetic retinopathy progresses to where vision is threatened, laser treatment or surgery are often helpful in preventing blindness. Treatment can be complicated and may involve not only your ophthalmologist, but also other medical doctors and retinal specialists. Laser treatment is often reserved for macular edema and proliferative disease where new blood vessels are being formed that threaten the retina. The goal of laser treatment for macular swelling is to limit or prevent further damage to central vision, not necessarily improvement of vision. The risk of visual loss is reduced by 50% for those who undergo appropriate laser treatment as compared to those who are not treated.
Can Diabetes Cause Night Blindness
How do you know if you have diabetes and its harming your vision? Diabetes-related retinopathy. This is a very frequent complication of diabetes and arises when the disease destroys the blood vessels in the eye. This damage results in symptoms such as blurred vision, floaters and black patches in the field of vision, swelling of the retina , impaired color perception, and ultimately blindness.
What are the early signs of diabetic retinopathy? The walls of the blood vessels in your retina weaken in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. The vessel walls protrude in tiny bulges, sometimes seeping or oozing fluid and blood into the retina. The retinal tissues may expand, resulting in white patches on the retina.
How often is diabetes-related blindness? Although many persons with diabetes acquire visual problems, less than 5% develop serious vision loss.
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How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Diabetic Retinopathy
There are several ways to prevent vision loss due to diabetes. Keeping your blood sugar levels within the recommended target range is of outmost importance. Good control of your blood pressure and cholesterol levels can also reduce the risk of vision loss.
Active lifestyle and adopting healthy dietary habits is another key to good diabetes care and prevention of diabetes complications like diabetic eye disease. Having your eyes checked on a regular basis is crucial for early detection of diabetic retinopathy.
In a recent blog we included several tips on how to prevent diabetic retinopathy.
When Should You Call Your Doctor
if you have diabetes and notice:
- New or sudden vision changes.
- Floaters in your field of vision. Floaters often appear as dark specks, globs, strings, or dots. A sudden shower of floaters may be a sign of a retinal detachment, which is a serious complication of diabetic retinopathy.
- A new visual defect, shadow, or curtain across part of your vision. This is another sign of retinal detachment.
- Eye pain or a feeling of pressure in your eye.
- New or sudden vision loss. Sudden partial or complete vision loss is a symptom of many disorders that can occur within or outside the eye, including retinal detachment or bleeding within the eye. Sudden vision loss is always a medical emergency.
- You have more and more trouble doing everyday tasks because of your eyesight.
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How Does Diabetes Affect Eye Health
Diabetes can affect the small blood vessels anywhere in the body. The retina, located at the back of the eye, is responsible for sending signals from your eye to your brain. It has many small blood vessels and is susceptible to the effects of diabetes. Having high blood sugar over long periods of time can damage blood vessels, which can cause swelling and bleeding in the retina. Certain individuals are more susceptible to eye disease, even if they have the same blood sugar level as others.
How Does Diabetes Cause Blindness
With over two decades of experience in medicine, Melissa Flagg writes patient education articles, keeping you informed about your health.
Diabetes can cause several different problems in the eye, all of which can lead to blindness.The most common of these problems are:
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Neovascular glaucoma
Of these, diabetic retinopathy, macular edema and cataracts were the most common afflictions I saw in my 20 year career in ophthalmology.
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Understanding Diabetic Eye Exam Results From The Artificial Intelligence System
- I received a negative result: A negative result means you do not have a level of diabetic retinopathy that needs to be assessed by an eye doctor right away. You will need to see an eye care specialist promptly if you have blurred vision or other symptoms of vision loss. If there are no vision loss symptoms, retesting in 12 months is recommended.
- I received an image quality insufficient result: In a small number of cases, it is not possible to take a good enough quality picture for the computer system to detect diabetic retinopathy. If this happens, you will be referred to an eye doctor for an eye exam.
- I received a positive result: A positive result means you have a level of diabetic retinopathy that needs to be evaluated by an eye doctor. This may or may not be a level of disease that needs immediate treatment. Only an eye doctor can tell if the disease is severe enough for treatment. A positive result is an important reminder to talk to your doctor about your care plan and ways to help reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy worsening and possibly causing vision loss.
Am I At Risk For Diabetic Retinopathy
Anyone with any kind of diabetes can get diabetic retinopathy including people with type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes .
Your risk increases the longer you have diabetes. Over time, more than half of people with diabetes will develop diabetic retinopathy. The good news is that you can lower your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy by controlling your diabetes.
Women with diabetes who become pregnant or women who develop gestational diabetes are at high risk for getting diabetic retinopathy. If you have diabetes and are pregnant, have a comprehensive dilated eye exam as soon as possible. Ask your doctor if youll need additional eye exams during your pregnancy.
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How Does Diabetes Lead To Blindness
People with diabetes have a higher risk of blindness than people who do not have diabetes.
That said, people with well-controlled diabetes are likely to suffer only minimal complications with their eyes.
The Anatomy of the Eye
The eye is a rounded, vitreous-fluid-filled ball. At the front of the eye is the cornea, which serves as a protection for the eye at the same time as it focuses light. Behind the cornea is the aqueous humor, a protective fluid that separates the cornea from the pupil.
The pupil is the hole in the center of the iris, the colored portion of the eye. The pupil dilates and contracts, controlling the amount of light that enters the inside of the eye. Behind the pupil is another lens, which aids in focusing images.
Light and images continue to pass through the vitreous fluid in the interior of the eyeball, until they hit the retina. The retina sits at the back of the eye and serves to focus images and code them for the brain to interpret.
One portion of the retina, called the macula, is used to see fine detail. This area of the retina is the site of many blood vessels, which nourish the retina.
How Diabetes Affects the Eyes
Because diabetes is a disease that can cause serious damage to the endothelial cells that line blood vessels, and because the eye is full of tiny blood vessels, the risk of damage to these vessels resulting in eye disorders is greater in those with diabetes.
Diseases of the Eye
Two Types of Diabetic Retinopathy
Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure And Cholesterol Levels
High blood pressure and high cholesterol place you at greater risk for eye disease and vision loss. Talk to your personal doctor about your numbers and what range is appropriate for you.
Keeping both your blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control will not only help your eyes but your overall health.
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What Are The Symptoms
Most of the time, there are no symptoms of diabetic retinopathy until it starts to change your vision. When this happens, diabetic retinopathy is already severe. Having your eyes checked regularly can find diabetic retinopathy early enough to treat it and help prevent vision loss.
If you notice problems with your vision, call an eye doctor right away. Changes in vision can be a sign of severe damage to your eye. These changes can include floaters, pain in the eye, blurry vision, or new vision loss.
Quit Smoking Or Never Start
Youre probably aware that smoking can cause severe health issues like cancer and heart disease.
You may not know, however, that smokers are also more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes and more likely to experience the diseases which cause vision loss. Smoking increases the risk of diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration which all lead to vision loss or blindness.
Quitting smoking is not easy, but its worth it for your health and improving your chances of keeping your sight well into your golden years.
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Millions Are Going Blind Unnecessarily
Anyone with diabetes can get diabetic retinopathy including people with Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes. It is estimated that there are 149 million people worldwide with diabetic retinopathy and of those, around 47 million with sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy.
These dramatic numbers are expected to exceed 245 million people with diabetic retinopathy and 77 million with sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy by 2045.
Can Dr Be Treated/reversed
Fortunately, diabetic retinopathy is preventable and also treatable. Maintaining blood sugar at an optimal level can help to prevent this serious condition. As controlled diabetes can also lead to diabetic retinopathy, it is advised to have your eyes examined regularly. This way, your ophthalmologist can diagnose and treat any retinal damage as early as possible. Also, reversing diabetic retinopathy is very much possible when this vision-threatening condition is detected in the early stages.
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How Diabetic Retinopathy Can Cause Blindness
It is a little-known fact that diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness in the world. This is especially true among the working age population. The reason is that the risk of developing sight-threatening eye disease increases significantly after living with diabetes for 20 years.
Diabetic Retinopathy damages the small blood vessels inside the retina at the back of the eye the part that detects light and sends signals to the brain through the optic nerve. The retina is a light-sensitive thin layer of tissue located near the optic nerve. It converts light into electrical signals, which are transmitted to the brain. The brain then turns them into the images you see.
The retina needs a constant supply of blood, which it receives through a network of tiny blood vessels. If the blood sugar levels are too high over a period of time, it can cause damage to the blood vessels leading to diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy commonly affects both eyes and can lead to vision loss if it is not treated.
How Diabetes Can Affect The Eyes
The retina is the light-sensitive layer of cells at the back of the eye that converts light into electrical signals. The signals are sent to the brain which turns them into the images you see.
The retina needs a constant supply of blood, which it receives through a network of tiny blood vessels.
Over time, a persistently high blood sugar level can damage these blood vessels in 3 main stages:
- background retinopathy tiny bulges develop in the blood vessels, which may bleed slightly but do not usually affect your vision
- pre-proliferative retinopathy more severe and widespread changes affect the blood vessels, including more significant bleeding into the eye
- proliferative retinopathy scar tissue and new blood vessels, which are weak and bleed easily, develop on the retina this can result in some loss of vision
However, if a problem with your eyes is picked up early, lifestyle changes and treatment can stop it getting worse.
- eye pain or redness
- difficulty seeing in the dark
These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have diabetic retinopathy, but it’s important to get them checked out.
Do not wait until your next screening appointment.
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Symptoms Of Diabetic Retinopathy
In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, patients usually do not show symptoms, and treatment is not always required. Patients have to monitor their blood-sugar levels to prevent the condition from worsening. If it does, prompt treatment is necessary to preserve vision.
Patients who develop diabetic retinopathy may not, at first, notice any changes to their vision. In its earliest stages, the condition causes tiny areas of swelling in the small blood vessels of the retina. Once symptoms are present, they include the following:
- Blurred or double vision
- Seeing flashing lights, blank spots or dark floaters
- Pain or pressure in either or both eyes
- Problems with peripheral vision
In its advanced stages, diabetic retinopathy can cause irreversible blindness.
During any stage of diabetic retinopathy, a condition known as macular edema can develop. Macular edema is the buildup of fluid in the macula, the light-sensitive part of the retina that allows objects to be seen with great detail. As the macula swells, vision becomes blurred. About half of the people with proliferative retinopathy are diagnosed with macular edema.
How Does A Diabetic Eye Exam Work
A diabetic eye exam can occur two ways:
Getting dilated eye examinations are so important, says Cai. This allows your doctors to identify issues early and offer you treatments if you need them to prevent vision loss from diabetes.
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What Percentage Of People With Diabetes And Diabetic Retinopathy Go Blind
According to the International Diabetes Federation , around a third of the global diabetes population of 463 million will develop some form of eye health complication that could have devastating and wide ranging social and economic impact if left untreated. The IDF estimates that 224 million people will have diabetic retinopathy and 70 million will have sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy by 2040.
Nearly 98% of patients with type 1 diabetes and 78% with type 2 diabetes are expected to develop minimal retinal damage after having diabetes for more than 15 years. Some studies suggest that around 17 million worldwide have proliferative diabetic retinopathy and without treatment over half of the patients with high-risk proliferative diabetic retinopathy will go blind within 5 years.
Though most patients with diabetes suffer from a varying extent of vision impairment, only about 5% of them develop severe vision loss. While this may not seem like a high number, bear in mind that the global diabetic population is expected to reach 700 million by 2045, according to the IDF, meaning 35 million people could go blind!
Calculate Your Risk Of Diabetic Retinopathy With The Retinarisk App
The RetinaRisk app is a unique and revolutionary tool that can be instrumental in preventing diabetic retinopathy. The app empowers people with diabetes to assess and monitor their individualized risk of developing sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy and seek early diagnosis and timely treatment.
The app´s easy-to-visualize gauge displays the individualized risk of each patient in green, amber and red. It also indicates which are the key risk factors for each risk calculation. The app vividly demonstrates how improvement of the modifiable risk factors , could significantly lower the user´s risk of potentially blinding diabetic eye disease and expensive interventions.
The RetinaRisk app offers extensive guidelines and educational material on good diabetes care, diabetic retinopathy and how to prevent vision loss. Users can set goals as regards blood sugar and blood pressure. They can track progress of the risk of diabetic eye disease. The app also allows the user to share the results with healthcare providers.
Logging previous and upcoming eye screening appointments and receiving reminders, is another valuable feature. This will help to ensure that people have their eyes checked regularly.
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