Diabetic Eye Care FAQ's by our St. Johnsbury, Lancaster, and Montpelier Optometrist
If you suffer from diabetes, it’s important to get an eye exam from your Lancaster optometrist regularly. That’s because patients with diabetes are prone to developing diabetic retinopathy, a condition that affects the blood vessels in the retina and can lead to deterioration of vision and even blindness without proper care.
What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy results from the weakening of the blood vessels in the retina as a result of prolonged exposure to high blood sugar levels. These weakened blood vessels eventually begin to leak fluid and depending on where that fluid escapes, it can interfere with your vision.
As the disease progresses, new blood vessels begin to grow in the retina, but these are not normal blood vessels, nor are they as strong as they should be. That means they often add to the leakage, and they can also cause the development of scar tissue on the retina and in the surrounding area.
What Are the Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy?
In its initial stages, diabetic retinopathy has no noticeable symptoms. As the disease progresses, blurry or distorted vision may develop, and you may have difficulty reading. Floaters can begin to appear, and it may seem as though a shadow has fallen across your field of vision. These symptoms may be accompanied by pressure or pain in the eye, as well as a constant redness.
How Often Do I Need an Eye Exam?
By the time noticeable symptoms of diabetic retinopathy have developed, significant damage has already been done to your eyes. That’s why it’s so important to be seen by an optometry professional on a regular basis. Particularly if you don’t normally wear glasses, you may not get an annual eye exam, but this really is the best way to catch diabetic retinopathy early and mitigate the damage it can do.
How Is Diabetic Retinopathy Treated?
The best way to limit damage to your vision from diabetic retinopathy is to get your blood sugar under control and keep it within your target range. High blood pressure and smoking can also make this condition progress more quickly, so it’s best to do what you can to eliminate those risk factors as well.
There are a number of options available to your optometrist when it comes to treating diabetic retinopathy, and these include laser treatments, surgery, and anti-inflammatory medication. Laser treatments are often effective at keeping you from losing your vision as long as they’re performed before too much damage has been done, which is another reason to get an eye exam often. Surgery for diabetic retinopathy often focuses on removing the vitreous gel that can cloud your vision, although the effectiveness of this is also dependent on catching the condition early.
Make an Appointment Today
To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call one of our three locations today. For service in Lancaster, call (603) 788-3561. St. Johnsbury patients can reach that office at (802) 748-3536, and our Montpelier office can be reached by calling (802) 223-7723.