If you have Diabetes, you have an increased risk for eye problems. When too much blood sugar (glucose) builds up, nerves and blood vessels in your body can be damaged. If this damage happens in the blood vessels of your eyes, vision loss or blindness may occur. Diabetes can affect eyes in different ways, and damaging effects may be found even if you do not notice any changes. Since everyone with diabetes is at risk, it is critical to get routine eye exams so don?t wait for symptoms to arise before you get your vision checked.
If the blood vessels inside the retina are damaged, this is called diabetic retinopathy. This disease can cause permanent loss of eyesight or blindness. There are two types of diabetic retinopathy, proliferative and nonproliferative, both of which are defined by abnormal blood vessels of the retina. In proliferative diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels become obstructed, and the retina does not receive proper nutrition. The lack of nutrition causes the growth of abnormal new blood vessels in the retina, which can cause bleeding and scar tissue. In nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels develop tiny leaks allowing fluid or blood to seep into the retina, which causes swelling or blurred vision. Once the damage is done it is often tough to restore your eyesight; therefore, annual eye exams allow early detection and prompt treatment.
Georgia Center for Sight performs laser surgery for diabetic retinopathy. Depending on the type and severity, lasers are used to either seal the leaking blood vessels or destroy the diseased portion of the retina. Since there is no cure for diabetes, the retina could receive continued damage, but laser surgery can prevent further visual loss. Treatment with the diabetic laser takes less than five minutes, requires only an eye drop for anesthesia, and is typically described as painless. Patients can immediately return to regular activities following treatment.