If you have diabetes mellitus, you need to see your ophthalmologist at least once a year. Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels, veins, and arteries in your eyes, and if not treated in the early stages, can lead to permanent blindness. People with untreated diabetes are estimated to be 25 times more likely to go blind than the general population (according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology).
There are usually no visible symptoms to diabetic retinopathy, unless there is macular edema (a collection of leaked fluid in the macula, the part of the eye that lets us see fine details) and symptomatic blurring. However when bleeding occurs, your sight may become spotty, hazy, or you may go blind.
About 80% of people who have had diabetes for 15 years or more already have damage to their retinal blood vessels. The longer a person has diabetes, the greater the risk of vision loss. People with Type 1, or juvenile diabetes, have an increased risk for developing diabetic retinopathy at a young age.
The back of your eye is called the retina. It is responsible for perceiving the light that goes through your eye and transmitting it to your brain for interpretation. When you have diabetes, the blood vessels in your retina can change and actually leak fluid or grow scar tissue as a branch off the main vessels. This can interfere with your ability to see by blurring or distorting the images sent to your brain. If it develops into proliferative diabetes where new, abnormal blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina and possibly lead to retinal detachment, blindness can occur. Moreover, diabetic retinopathy can also lead to glaucoma if left untreated.
With regular visits, once a year or more, to your eye doctor, you dramatically decrease your chance of vision loss. Natural Vision's Dr. Kaye is a specialist in the area of diabetes and has helped thousands of valley residents reduce the affects of diabetic retinopathy. You can email Dr. Kaye, and we can send you more information or call you to schedule an appointment. Or if you are very concerned, call us for an appointment immediately at (559) 432-1000 (8 A.M to 6 P.M. Mon thru Thurs. 8 to 5 Fri.)