If you’re diabetic, you have to pay much closer attention to many aspects of your health. This is especially true of your vision: Diabetics have a 25 times greater risk of going blind than people not afflicted by the disease. Drs. Campbell, Cunningham, Taylor & Haun have been helping East Tennesseans with diabetes manage their health for more than four decades.
Diabetes affects small blood vessels, especially those in the extremities and the eyes. In your eyes, the retina is at risk from the disease. The retina is the delicate tissue lining the inside of the eye that receives light and transmits images to the brain. The blood vessels in the retina can be damaged by a condition called diabetic retinopathy. Because the tissue is so sensitive, even small changes can affect vision.
There are two types of diabetic retinopathy. Background diabetic retinopathy (BDR) results when blood leaks from the retinal blood vessels. Some vessels close; others enlarge, creating deposits called exudates. Leaking blood, enlarged vessels, and exudates can all impact vision.
The second type, Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR), begins in a manner similar to BDR. As damaged blood vessels close, new abnormal ones develop on the retina surface or into the vitreous gel inside the eye. The fragile vessels break easily, and bleed into the vitreous gel, obstructing vision.
Symptoms of diabetic eye disease include blurred vision, cloudy vision, or even complete loss of vision.
This is why regular vision checkups for diabetic patients are so important. Your doctor may be able to spot bleeding or damage in the eye before it affects vision, and prompt action can prevent additional damage. At Drs. Campbell, Cunningham, Taylor & Haun, we conduct thorough retinal exams for diabetic patients, using techniques that allow us to trace the vessels in the retina and identify problems. This helps with an immediate diagnosis of any problems, and can provide information for future treatments.
Treatment options include laser surgery, which focuses a beam of light on the retina; intravitreal injections, where medicines are injected into the eye, or vitrectomy, a surgical procedure that removes scar tissue and blood. This is done after other treatments have been attempted first.
Read more about diabetic conditions and treatments (and watch a video) here.
If you’re diabetic, or have a family member with diabetes, regular eye exams (at least every two years) are very important. Schedule an appointment by calling (865) 584-0905.