Because November marks Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month, the eye doctors at Atlanta Vision Cataract and Laser Center would like to take the opportunity to discuss the various conditions that people with diabetes are at risk for. If you have diabetes, we encourage you to undergo regular, comprehensive eye examinations to screen for these potentially debilitating eye conditions:
Unfortunately, patients with diabetes are up to five times more likely to develop cataracts. The root cause comes down to your blood sugar level. When your blood sugar gets too high, that damages the blood vessels throughout your body, including those in your eyes. Specifically, blood sugar can cause your lens to swell, which can distort your vision. On top of that, excess blood sugar transforms glucose into sorbitol, which can further cloud your lens.
The good news is that cataracts that result from diabetes can usually be corrected with the help of cataract surgery.
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that damages the blood vessels inside your retina. Left unmanaged, diabetic retinopathy can lead to complete vision loss.
If you have diabetes (type 1, type 2 or gestational diabetes), your risk for developing diabetic retinopathy is about 40%. The initial symptoms to pay attention for are blurry vision, an inability to discern between colors, fluctuating vision quality and empty spots that appear in your field of vision.
Glaucoma occurs when increased pressure builds up inside the eye and damages the optic nerve. The vision loss that results is usually hard to notice until it gets serious. Your odds of having open angle glaucoma double if you have diabetes, so it is important that you make it a priority to screen for glaucoma in order to catch it early.
A rarer type of glaucoma, neovascular glaucoma, occurs when new, irregular blood vessels form in the retina. This can happen as a consequence of multiple health disorders, though it is most commonly the result of diabetes. While neovascular glaucoma is more challenging to treat than other forms of glaucoma, laser surgery can help many patients.
Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)
Most common in patients who have diabetic retinopathy, DME causes swelling in the macula, a critical part of the retina. That swelling gradually diminishes the acuity of your vision and can eventually lead to blindness.
Schedule an Appointment
In most cases, your best bet to preserve as much of your vision as possible is to catch these conditions early and seek appropriate treatment. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Leonard Achiron or Dr. David O’Day to screen for diabetic eye diseases by calling (404) 765-2020.