Many serious eye diseases have no symptoms in the early stages, so regular eye exams at our Greenville office are a must for glaucoma, retinopathy, and cataract prevention
This is especially true if you have Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes. Generally speaking, people with diabetes are at a greater risk for vision problems as well as serious eye disease. High blood sugar can damage the blood vessels in the eye, which can lead to blurry vision, vision loss, or even blindness. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults who are between the ages of 20 and 74.
If you have diabetes, you are at a significantly higher risk for three particularly serious eye problems: cataracts, glaucoma, and retinopathy.
Cataracts are cloudy areas that develop within the eye lens, thereby blocking light’s ability to reach the retina, where images are processed, and making it more difficult to see. Diabetics are 60% more likely to get cataracts than non-diabetics. Diabetics also tend to get cataracts at a younger age than people without diabetes. Uncontrolled or poorly controlled blood sugar can be a catalyst for cataract development, so it’s important to maintain your blood sugar and to visit your eye doctor for regular exams.
Cataracts are typically asymptomatic in the early stages. You are unlikely to experience any pain, redness, or tearing, and some cataracts may even stay small enough to not affect your eyesight much, if at all. Large, thick cataracts, however, can cause severe vision problems and distress. At Carolina Cornea, we recommend that patients who are experiencing vision loss due to cataracts consider cataract surgery, which is a simple procedure that produces startling results. If cataracts have you struggling to see, or to engage in everyday activities, schedule cataract surgery with our Greenville office. In just a couple of visits, you can be on your way to the best vision of your life.
Your eye is filled with a clear, watery fluid called the aqueous humor. If this fluid doesn’t drain properly, it can increase the intraocular pressure (IOP) in your eyes, damaging your optic nerve and causing a permanent decrease in vision. While not the only factor, a high IOP is the main indicator of glaucoma. People with diabetes are up 40% more likely to develop glaucoma, and the longer you have diabetes, the greater your chances of developing the disease.
Typically, glaucoma has no symptoms until it is fairly advanced, and its effects are irreversible, which is why many have nicknamed it “the silent thief.” The best way to protect yourself against glaucoma is to schedule regular eye exams to increase your chances of early detection, particularly if you are at high risk for the disease. In addition to diabetes, others at high risk include those with a family history of the disease, those with African, Hispanic, or Asian ancestry, those who are over 60 years old, those who smoke, those who are extremely nearsighted, and those who have a history of high blood pressure. While there is no cure for glaucoma, there are medicines and procedures that can slow, or even stop, the progress of the disease, including medicinal eyedrops and surgeries.
If you have begun to develop glaucoma, you are not a good candidate for LASIK eye surgery until your condition is stable and, even then, LASIK may not be the best choice for you. The best way to figure out how to improve your condition is to schedule an appointment with Carolina Cornea to discuss your options. There are many alternatives for glaucoma patients who want surgical vision correction.
Diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage to the small blood vessels inside the retina and is the number one cause of irreversible blindness in industrialized nations. As with glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy is more likely to develop the longer you’ve had the disease. Those with Type 1 Diabetes are highly unlikely to develop retinopathy until after they’ve reached puberty; it’s also rare to develop retinopathy until after you’ve had Diabetes for at least five years.
During the early stages of the disease, you are unlikely to experience pain or vision loss. Over time, though, the walls of your small blood vessels may begin to leak fluid. After you’ve had the damage for a while, your small blood vessels can form scar tissue, pulling the retina away from the back of your eye and leading to severe vision loss and possibly even blindness.
Uncontrolled blood sugar is the leading cause of diabetic retinopathy, just as it’s the leading cause of cataracts and glaucoma for those with diabetes. Keeping tight control of your blood sugar levels using an insulin pump or multiple daily injections can greatly reduce your risk for all three of these eye problems as well as other health problems involving the small blood vessels, including kidney disease and nerve damage.
Scheduling regular eye exams with our Greenville office can help detect retinopathy in its early stages, before it has caused irreversible damage. Your eye doctor can check for signs of retinopathy during a thorough eye exam using a special dye to find leaking blood vessels. Treatment for the disease involves a laser surgery that seals the blood vessels and stops them from leaking and growing. This procedure can’t restore lost vision, which is why it’s best to catch the disease early, before too much damage has been done. Combined with follow-up care, treatment can lower the chance of blindness by as much as 90%. Later stage treatment often consists of surgery to remove any scar tissue, blood, or cloudy fluid from inside the eye, which will not fully restore your sight but will improve your vision.
At Carolina Cornea, we are committed to your best vision, no matter what your particular health challenges are. If you have Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes, or if you have any of the other risk factors for eye disease, we highly encourage you to take steps now to protect your most precious sense and to save yourself time and money in the long run.