Individuals with the chronic condition of diabetes have a lot to think about. Due to the nature of unregulated blood sugar and insulin resistance, the body tends to be at risk for some secondary ailments such as gum disease, heart disease, and potentially serious eye diseases.
The most common eye condition that we worry about in certain individuals is diabetic retinopathy. This problem originates in the blood vessels of the retina, the tissue that sits at the back of the eye. The retina is what transmits light that enters the front of the eye into signals that travel to the brain through the optic nerve. The blood vessels in the retina are delicate and prone to leakage or bleeding if damaged by elevated pressure in the eye.
Diabetic retinopathy may occur as non-proliferative or proliferative types.
- Non-proliferative retinopathy is an early stage condition in which blood vessels have started to become weak and swollen. These areas of swelling within blood vessels may lead fluid onto the retina.
- Proliferative retinopathy is an advanced condition in which blood vessels are spreading. New blood vessels are more delicate than their predecessors, which means they are more likely to bleed and form scar tissue that can lead to retinal detachment and macular edema.
From the Retina to the Macula
When diabetic retinopathy has been diagnosed, the risk that concerns eye doctors is vision loss related to macular edema or swelling around the retina. The bad news about macular edema is that it can lead to vision impairment. The good news is that, while it can occur at any time due to diabetic retinopathy, macular edema usually develops in later stages of that disease. That means we have an opportunity to prevent permanent damage with early action.
The best way to reduce the risk of macular edema and vision loss is to prevent or treat retinopathy. And to do that, diabetics are encouraged to develop strategies aimed at maintaining health. These include:
- Eating a healthy diet that keeps blood sugar regulated.
- Controlling blood pressure.
- Taking medications as directed by a physician.
- Maintaining or implementing a good exercise routine. This could be as simple as a daily walk.
- Avoiding alcohol and tobacco.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, we know you have a lot to think about. We are here to support you in the long-term health of your eyes. Call our office near Honolulu at 808-625-5577.