Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Eye Disease Treatment in Houston, TX

Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to produce or use insulin effectively to control blood sugar (glucose) levels. Too much glucose in the blood for a long time can cause damage in many parts of the body. Diabetes can damage the heart, kidneys and blood vessels. It damages small blood vessels in the eye as well.

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What Is Diabetic Eye Disease?

Diabetic eye disease is a term for several eye problems that can all result from diabetes. Diabetic eye disease includes:

Chart Showing a Healthy Eye Compared  to One With Diabetic Retinopathy

The buildup of excess sugar in your blood can lead to a number of health issues. In your eyes, too much glucose can damage the tiny vessels that supply blood to your retina. Over time, this damage may block your blood flow.

Chronic damage to retinal blood vessels affects your vision. When your blood flow is diminished, your eye attempts to fix the situation by growing new blood vessels.

The process of growing new blood vessels is called neovascularization. These vessels aren’t as effective or as strong as the original ones. They may leak or rupture, which can negatively impact your vision.

In its earliest stages, diabetic retinopathy may cause no symptoms. The initial symptoms may be barely noticeable or mild. Over time, the condition can worsen and lead to partial and then complete blindness.

You should see your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Floaters, or dots and dark strings, in your field of vision.
  • Dark or empty areas in your field of vision.
  • Blurry vision
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Vision changes that seem to fluctuate.
  • Altered color vision.
  • Partial or total vision loss.

Diabetic retinopathy most often affects both eyes at the same time and in equal measure. If you’re experiencing issues with only one eye, it doesn’t mean you don’t have diabetic retinopathy. However, it might indicate another eye issue. Make an appointment to see our doctor to find an appropriate treatment plan.

The best way to handle eye problems related to diabetes is through early detection of retinal abnormalities, regular monitoring, and prompt treatment. Early detection and treatment typically begin with the retinal exam.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that people with type 1 diabetes have their first eye exam within the first five years after diagnosis.

If you have type 2 diabetes, the ADA recommends that you have your first eye exam shortly after you receive a diagnosis. This is because type 2 diabetes often goes undetected and undiagnosed for years. Retinopathy may have already begun during that time. An eye exam will help your doctor determine if you already have damage.

The ADA recommends you have an eye exam each year after your first exam. If you wear glasses or contacts, you probably need an annual eye exam to keep your prescription up to date. During that exam, your doctor will conduct a few minor tests to see if your vision has changed as a result of diabetes.

You may develop retinopathy and find that your symptoms don’t progress or stall entirely. If that happens, the likelihood you’ll be monitoring your eyes for changes for the rest of your life is high.

If your doctor diagnoses you with retinopathy and treats you for it, they may request exams several times per year. The number of eye exams you need each year will depend largely on the severity of the retinopathy.

Treatment for diabetic retinopathy aims to slow or stop the progression of the condition. The exact treatment depends on which type of retinopathy you have, how severe your condition is, and how well-controlled your diabetes is.

The best way to reduce the effects of diabetes on your eyes and the rest of your body is to control your blood sugar levels and maintain a healthier lifestyle. You can do the following to help prevent vision loss and other complications from diabetes:

  • Attend regular appointments with your doctor to check your health, including the health of your eyes.
  • Contact your doctor right away if anything changes with your health or your vision.
  • Quit smoking if smoke.
  • Lose weight if you’re overweight. Weight loss is important in controlling your blood sugar.
  • Maintain a healthy weight to help improve your insulin sensitivity and lower your blood sugar levels.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet to help you achieve and maintain an ideal body weight.

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