Diabetes and Eye Health: How Ophthalmologists Can Improve Your Quality of Life Despite being a well-known condition, the impact diabetes can have on your eye health is often overlooked. If not managed correctly, diabetes can trigger devastating eye conditions that put your vision at risk. This is why as ophthalmologists, it’s our duty to help you maintain your quality of life through a use of our extensive training and expert care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with diabetes have a 25 times higher risk of blindness. While this might seem like a frightening statistic, it’s important to remember that ophthalmologists train for an average of 12 years to provide you with the best possible eye care. For people suffering from diabetes, this is why regular visits to an ophthalmologist can be so beneficial to your overall health. But how exactly can an ophthalmologist care for your eyes if you have diabetes? Our expert team of eye doctors in Sarasota and Manatee County are here with all the answers you need. Firstly, how can diabetes affect your vision? One of the most common eye-related complications of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugars damage the retina's blood vessels. The retina (a light-sensitive layer of cells in the back of the eye) is already susceptible to damage, so those with elevated blood sugar should be extra vigilant. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people suffering from adult diabetes receive a dilated eye examination every year. This not only allows for earlier detection of diabetic eye disease, it also allows your ophthalmologist to gain a better understanding of your overall eye health. As someone with diabetes, it’s important to know that diabetic retinopathy can lead to: \tA swelling and leaking of blood vessels in the eye area (Vitreous Hemorrhage) \tA build-up and leaking of fluid directly in the center of your vision (Diabetic Macular Edema) \tRetinal detachment \tBlurred vision \tSpots or black spots in your vision (floaters) \tA lack of blood flow to the eye \tTemporary or permanent loss of sight Are there different stages of diabetic retinopathy? Generally speaking, you can split diabetic retinopathy into two categories. While both levels of the condition will require immediate treatment, your ophthalmologist will tailor a treatment plan around whichever stage you’ve reached. The two levels of diabetic retinopathy include: 1. Early diabetic retinopathy With this type of diabetic retinopathy, the walls of the blood vessels in your retina tend to be weak. This can cause tiny bulges to protrude from the blood vessels in your eye, sometimes leaking fluid and blood into the retina. Upon leakage, the onset of more obvious symptoms may occur. If left untreated, a build-up of fluid (edema) in the center portion of your eye (known as the macula) can occur. Macular edema is the leading cause of vision loss for people with diabetes; therefore, the role of your retina specialist is vital in helping you spot conditions as early as possible. 2. Advanced diabetic retinopathy Advanced diabetic retinopathy commonly occurs when the blood vessels in your eye close off, causing new and abnormal blood vessels to grow in the retina. This can be due to symptoms of early diabetic retinopathy going undetected or a more sudden build-up of fluid or blood. Because advanced diabetic retinopathy can create pressure in the eye, your ophthalmologist will need to act quickly to avoid irreversible damage and further complications. This is why, as mentioned, diabetic patients should schedule regular visits to an ophthalmologist. How can your ophthalmologists treat diabetic retinopathy? The good news is, for both forms of diabetic retinopathy, your ophthalmologist can provide a treatment plan. However, as with all retinal conditions, the earlier you know there’s an issue, the more support your retina specialist can provide. Regardless of the type of conditions you’ve developed due to diabetes, you can always expect prompt treatment as a Retina Care Consultants patient. Due to advanced medical and surgical training, our ophthalmologists are best positioned to treat eye-related complications of diabetes — a role we take very seriously. Just some of the advanced treatments we offer at our Sarasota and Manatee County eye clinics include: Laser treatment for diabetes Serving to reduce vision loss caused by diabetes, laser treatment is a suitable treatment for those suffering from early-stage diabetic retinopathy. This treatment usually takes around 10 minutes to complete. Retinal surgery For more advanced cases of diabetic retinopathy, you may require surgery. This is where your ophthalmologist’s unique training will come in. With a procedure called ‘vitrectomy’, your ophthalmologist can remove the vitreous jelly that fills your eye. They can then replace it with a saline solution and improve the clarity of your vision. During this procedure, your retina specialist will also be able to assess the full extent of damage to your retina and protect your vision as much as possible moving forward. Eye injections At our eye clinics in Sarasota and Manatee County, our medical practitioners can also provide eye injections to relieve the symptoms of diabetic eye disease. We commonly inject diabetes medication such as anti-VEGF (also known by the brand names Avastin, Lucentis, Eylea, or Vabysmo). As retina specialists, we’re trained to offer the best possible care to our patients. This is why our eye doctors in Sarasota and Manatee County will be able to advise on the best treatment for you after a consultation. As someone with diabetes, what tips should I follow to maintain my vision? As someone diagnosed with diabetes, you have a unique opportunity to get ahead of your eye health. The best way to do this is to: \tSchedule regular appoints with your ophthalmologist \tView your eye health as part of your overall health routine \tKeep your glucose levels and blood pressure within normal range \tFollow the advice of your retina specialist in the same way you follow the advice of your general practitioner or diabetes specialist \tAvoid unnecessary risk to your eyes (e.g. sun damage) How can Retina Care Consultants in Sarasota and Manatee County help? Working in the field we do, we understand that the discovery of eye-related diseases can be an overwhelming time for patients. This is why our eye doctors are trained to provide the best medical care possible and put patients at ease. As one of the leading eye care clinics in Florida, our retina specialists are well-versed in spotting the risks associated with diabetes in adults. If you have diabetes, the time to schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist is now. Your vision is an integral part of your overall health and as retina specialists, we understand this more than most. Get in touch today to schedule an appointment at our Sarasota or Manatee County clinic. Don’t let your vision hold you back.