Diabetes is associated with several eye health issues including cataracts and glaucoma, but the most well known diabetic eye disease is diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that only affects diabetics. It occurs when tiny blood vessels that make up the fragile vascular network that supplies the retina – the light sensitive neural tissue at the back of the eye that allows us see – begins to swell or leak. During the beginning stages of the disease, there may be no noticeable symptoms, so it’s important to have your eyes checked at least once a year, if you have diabetes.
Once symptoms of diabetic retinopathy start to develop, which can include: dark or black spots in your visual field, or blurry vision which increases over time, eventually leading to sight-threatening retinal scarring. These are a result of bleeding at the back of the eye, which prevents a clear image from being transmitted from the retina to the brain.
Whether you have type 1, type 2, or even just gestational diabetes, you are at risk for developing diabetic retinopathy. The longer you have had the disease, the greater the risk. It is essential to keep your blood sugar levels under control to prevent vision loss and this may require the close involvement of your general practitioner.
Treating diabetic retinopathy can include injections and laser, but once scarring of the retina occurs a vitrectomy is required, replacing the inner gel-like substance that supports the eyeball structure.
Special thanks to the EyeGlass Guide, for informational material that aided in the creation of this website.