Anyone who suffers from diabetes must keep a closer-than-average watch on their eye health, as the disease can lead to vision problems which do not affect the rest of the population. Our diabetic eye exam is unique in that it takes extra steps to look for signs of vision-threatening eye diseases early, as late discovery could mean irrecoverable vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema (DME) can both be spotted extremely early if a professional exam is carried out every year (or twice a year) at our practice. The independent optometrist at Woodstock Optical uses advanced imaging equipment to examine your eye and search for any irregularities. If either disease is spotted in its infancy, your vision can be much better protected than if vision loss occurs before you are even examined.
If you suffer from diabetic retinopathy or DME, early detection is the only way to preserve the maximum amount of vision.
This is a very serious illness and is the most ‘famous’ eye disease which affects diabetics. It has two stages: non-proliferative and proliferative.
This is the earlier, less severe stage of diabetic retinopathy. The capillaries of the retina weaken over time, and eventually leak blood and other fluids into the eyeball. This can obscure vision, and is graded between mild, moderate and severe.
The advanced stage of the disease. Over time, as your blood vessels become inefficient at transporting blood to the eye, new, weaker vessels are formed. The walls of these vessels can’t handle the blood pressure and they can rupture, spilling blood into the eyeball. When the vessel walls die, they can form scar tissue which eventually contracts, potentially pulling at the retina enough to cause retinal detachment. This will cause permanent blindness.
Like an advancement of non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy, the fluid that leaks from ruptured blood cells can find its way to the macula. As the macula is the part of the retina responsible for sharp, clear central vision, any fluids in the area can badly obscure your vision of anything in front of you. Around 50% of those who suffer from diabetic retinopathy will also experience DME.
The exam and diagnosis – The optometrist will use special eye drops to fully dilate pupils before beginning the procedure. This lets them see much more clearly into your eye, heightening the chances of spotting signs of an eye disease in its infancy. The rest of the exam is largely similar to a normal, comprehensive eye exam: a detailed study of your eye health and structure.
Treatment options – Currently, there is no cure for diabetic retinopathy. What we can do is offer advice on dietary changes which have been shown to have an impact on slowing the progression of the disease.
Fortunately, there are a couple of options for DME. Most common is the use of laser surgery to seal and ruptured blood vessels and so limit the fluid leakage into the eye. Anti-VEGF treatment may also be available. Neither offers a cure, but both can limit disease progression and preserve any remaining vision.