Diabetic Eye Problems - 4 Critical Areas For Concern

August 06, 2013

Eye problems associated with diabetes can, in many instances, be prevented through early detection and treatment. Keeping the blood glucose and blood pressure as close to the normal range as possible are important first steps in preventing diabetes from affecting eyesight. There are other ways to prevent damage and that is to stop smoking and once a year have an eye care professional examine your eyes by dilating your pupils. Dilating makes the pupils (black part of your eye) opening bigger and allows the eye doctor to see the back of your eye. When the eye doctor looks into your eye they will be checking four different areas for possible damage from diabetes:

1. Diabetes can cause harm to your retina which is the lining at the back of the eye. The retina picks-up the light that comes into the eye. Damage to this part of the eye can happen slowly over a long period of time. Because of the high blood pressure and high blood glucose the tiny blood vessels can easily be damaged by swelling then becoming weak. Some blood vessels may not let enough blood through because they are clogged. A person may not experience sight problems as these changes take place, which is why it is important to have an eye examination once a year. The term for a diabetic's eye problem is diabetic retinopathy.

Laser treatment may be used to close off leaking blood vessels. By doing this procedure, leaking blood may be kept out of the vitreous and slow the loss of vision.

2. The vitreous is a jelly-like substance that fills the back part of your eye. As the diabetes retina problems become worse, the blood leaks into the vitreous of your eye. You may see "floaters" or even total darkness because the blood keeps the light from reaching the retina. Scar tissue may form from the swollen and weak blood vessels. Now, there is a serious problem because this scar tissue has the ability to pull the retina away from the back of the eye, detaching the retina and causing flashing lights or spots that float. If you feel this might be the case, you must seek professional help immediately since a detached retina can cause blindness.

There is a procedure that can be used if a lot of blood has leaked into the vitreous and is causing poor vision and it is called vitrectomy. What happens is the fluid and blood is removed from eye vitreous and clean fluid is put back into your eye. By clearing out the blood causing the poor vision, eyesight may be improved.

3. The lens is located at the front of the eye and its job is to focus the light which comes into the eye on the retina. During their eye examination, a diabetic should ask the eye doctor to check for cataracts. Individuals who have diabetes are more susceptible to getting cataracts at a much earlier age and more often. A cataract is a clear cloud that forms on the lens of your eye and makes everything look cloudy. Surgery can correct this by taking your lens out and putting in a lens similar to a contact lens which stays in the eye all the time. After cataract surgery an individual is able to see clearly again.

4. The eye's main nerve to the brain is the optic nerve. Also during the eye examination, your eye care professional should check you for glaucoma. Pressure building up in your eye causes glaucoma which damages the optic nerve. At first, an individual will lose sight from the side of their eyes. Once diagnosed, an individual has two options: the eye care professional may give you drops which will lower the pressure in the eye or they may suggest laser surgery.

A diabetic must be careful to prevent damage to their eyes from the effects of their diabetes. Keeping their blood glucose and blood pressure at the normal range and seeing an eye care professional once a year, can go a long way in protecting their eyesight.
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