Diabetic Eye Disease
Diabetes is an epidemic in the United States. It is a leading cause of visual loss. Fortunately with proper screening much of the visual loss from diabetes can be prevented. It has been shown that many of the complications of diabetes both in the eye and elsewhere in the body can be prevented or at least slowed by observing several precautions. First and foremost is to obtain the best control of diabetes as is possible. The control should be monitored by intermittent measurement of hemoglobin A1C which is a measure of long term control of blood sugar. Ophthalmologists at Hirshfield Eye Associates in Queens can put a patient on regimen of excellent diet and exercise which is also very helpful in controlling blood sugar as well as complications.
If blood pressure is elevated then tight control is necessary and finally, bad cholesterol and triglycerides should be treated with dietary changes and medication as needed. Diabetes affects the eyes in many ways. Cataracts, which are a clouding of the eyes’ lens, occur earlier in diabetics. The incidence of glaucoma is higher in diabetics as well. The main problem which causes severe visual loss in diabetics is retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy can cause visual loss by swelling in the retina or new blood vessels that are abnormal and have the potential for bleeding in the eye. Fortunately, if detected early enough, these problems can be slowed or cured by laser treatment procedures to the eyes. If laser treatment is not effective, surgery can often help. The main thing to understand here is that diabetics need to have regular eye exams with an ophthalmologist. Some of the findings in this disease may occur long before visual loss or other symptoms. It is then that treatment is most effective. If a diabetic waits until he or she has loss of vision to be examined then it may be too late at that time to effectively restore the vision.
The take home message is that if you are a diabetic then you must have regular eye exams. If your diabetes is well controlled and you have no documented eye disease then an exam once per year may be sufficient. However, if you have been diagnosed with any type of diabetic complication then more frequent exams or procedures may be required. Here at Hirshfield Eye Associates in Queens our staff and doctors are fully trained in evaluating and treating all aspects of diabetic eye disease so that our patients may have the most hope of retaining good vision for their lifetime.