Affecting millions of Americans every year, diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood sugar levels are too high. With type 1 diabetes, patients are dependant on insulin to manage their blood sugar, while type 2 patients can control their condition with exercise, proper nutrition, and the right medication. Patients diagnosed with diabetes may be concerned with their vision, as diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults, including a condition called diabetic retinopathy.
Nevada Eye Physicians, with 8 locations across Nevada, including Las Vegas, is a comprehensive facility that makes your vision a priority. As we understand the importance of eye health, we hope to provide you with the information and education needed if you have been diagnosed with diabetes. By not managing your diabetes, you can cause irreparable damage to the eyes that may lead to poor vision or worse. Common diabetic eye diseases include diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic macular edema (DME). All of these conditions can cause vision loss or even blindness.
How Diabetic Retinopathy Develops
Diabetic retinopathy is a result of diabetes, so if you have been diagnosed with this disease, you are at risk for this condition. Your risk automatically increases as a result of consistently high blood pressure or cholesterol, tobacco use, pregnancy, and other health complications as defined by your doctor.
Diabetic retinopathy can develop in patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Short-term damage is caused when consistently high blood sugar levels cause fluid to move in the eye, which leads to swelling in the eye. On a long-term basis, blood vessels in the retinal tissue can eventually leak fluid, ultimately distorting your vision. The longer you have diabetes, or if you have trouble controlling your blood sugar, the more likely you are to have diabetic retinopathy.
Identifying Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
While you may not experience certain symptoms in the early stage of diabetic retinopathy, some patients have reported the following:
- Blurred or fluctuating vision
- Impaired color vision
- Dark or empty areas in your vision
- A decrease in visual acuity (sharpness)
- Spots or strings floating in your line of sight
It is essential to report any concerning symptoms as soon as possible to a healthcare professional. When you schedule an eye examination at Nevada Eye Physicians, we routinely check for issues to determine if you are in danger of vision loss. During the visual acuity test, a physician will use an eye chart to understand how well you can see at different distances. With pupil dilation, we can get an accurate view of the retina and other areas. We then measure the pressure in the eye to make sure there are no abnormalities. Based on our findings, we may inject a special dye in your bloodstream that will highlight the blood vessels in the retina to confirm if there is any leaking or damage present.
Preventing Diabetic Retinopathy
Since diabetic retinopathy can go unnoticed until the disease has progressed to vision loss, prevention begins with a yearly comprehensive eye exam. With early detection and appropriate follow-up, your eyes can be protected against blindness. Even if your vision seems normal, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at Nevada Eye Physicians in locations across the state including Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City, Mesquite, and Pahrump. Reach out to our team right away if you experience sudden changes such as blurry or spotty vision.
It is in your best interest to control your diabetes by staying active and maintaining a healthy diet as suggested by your healthcare provider. This includes keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure levels under control. Take any medications or insulin as prescribed and record your blood sugar levels with a glucose meter frequently to make sure it is within your target range.
If you are a smoker or use tobacco products, consult your doctor about quitting since this increases your risk of diabetes complications. By taking an active role, you can go a long way in preventing vision loss.
Treating Diabetic Eye Disease
Once diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, your doctor at Nevada Eye Physicians may prescribe corticosteroids injected into the eye to alleviate inflammation. We may also utilize laser treatments using our innovative, state-of-the-art technology. These help target any leaking blood vessels to prevent further damage. To prevent the growth of abnormal blood vessels, our physicians may decide to inject anti-VEGF drugs in the vitreous gel of the eye. This is the clear-colored gel in between the lens and retina.
There is no way to reverse loss of vision, but most individuals can expect a reduction in the occurrence of blindness if there is an early diagnosis. One of the most recommended ways of slowing the progression of diabetic retinopathy, however, is by keeping your blood sugar levels under control.
If you live in Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City, Mesquite, or Pahrump, NV and have been diagnosed with diabetes, Nevada Eye Physicians delivers high-quality, personalized care. Our experienced staff offers a variety of procedures and options for a wide range of eye conditions. If you want to improve your eyesight and enjoy an enhanced quality of life, we encourage you to browse our list of services and contact one of our conveniently-located offices today.