What Do Ophthalmologists Do for Diabetes? Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month
People with diabetes stand a higher chance of developing eye problems, such as glaucoma, retinal vessel occlusion, or cataracts. It is estimated that 17.3% of UAE residents between 20 to 79 years live with type 2 diabetes. Diabetic Macular Edema and Diabetic retinopathy are among the top eye conditions in the UAE.
Common Diabetic Eye Problems
Diabetic retinopathy is the most prevalent cause of blindness among many adults, and it is the leading diabetic eye disease. This condition causes total blindness in both eyes, and it is caused when the small blood vessels of the retina are damaged.
Poor glucose management and hypoxia lead to the growth of new weak blood vessels, which then leak fluid into the retina. There’s also a growth of abnormal blood vessels that starts on the surface of the retina, which sometimes bleeds and blocks your vision. Retinopathy takes a gradual progression; it goes from mild to complex.
Diabetic Macular Edema, on the other hand, is caused by a complication of retinopathy. When the fluid leaks into the retina, it may cause the swelling of the surrounding tissues, such as the macular. Diabetic Macular Edema is the leading cause of blindness for people with retinopathy.
Poor blood glucose management, as well as underlying medical conditions like high blood pressure, increases the risk of going blind for people with Diabetic Macular Edema. This condition can occur at any stage of retinopathy; however, it occurs mostly as the disease progresses.
How Ophthalmologists Deal with Diabetes
An ophthalmologist is different from an optician. An optician prescribes corrective lenses while an ophthalmologist treats refractive disorders and other conditions, such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular conditions.
The following ways explain how ophthalmologists for diabetes work:
It is necessary to seek medical attention if you or any family member has been diagnosed with diabetes and is experiencing retinopathy symptoms. These include blurred vision, impaired color vision, spots floating in your vision, fluctuating vision, and dark areas in your vision. Retinopathy affects both eyes.
If you have diabetes, it is necessary to see your ophthalmologist for diabetes management to get your eyes checked annually. This helps to prevent diabetic retinopathy when it is detected early.
The first thing the ophthalmologist asks about is your medical history, and then you will be required to read an eye chart. The specialist then uses an ophthalmoscope to examine your eyes.
Some of the characteristics of retinopathy cannot be detected during a regular eye exam. The specialist needs to conduct a complex eye exam, which is why he might use eye dips to dilate your eyes. This allows the doctor to examine your retina using a slit lamp and lenses.
A special test called fluorescein angiography reveals changes in the functions and structure of the retinal blood vessels. This is a procedure where a fluorescent dye is injected into your bloodstream. This highlights the blood vessels located at the back of your eyes for easier photography. This examination will also detect glaucoma and cataracts, which are common for people with diabetes.
Before a fluorescent angiography test, you need to prepare and ask someone to help you get home because your eyes will be dilated for 12 hours after the exam. Inform your doctor if you are taking any drugs, whether prescribed, over-the-counter, or even herbal supplements. Also, inform the ophthalmologist if you have an iodine allergy. If you wear contacts, you have to remove them before the test.
The best thing about ophthalmologists for diabetes is that the physician will help you to interpret the results of your test. If you have healthy eyes, the results will show normal blood vessels with regular shape and size. The blood vessels will have no leaks or blockages. If you have retinopathy, the results will come out with abnormal blood vessels. The results show blockages and leaks in the vessels.
Treatment should involve ophthalmologists for diabetes and a doctor. Your primary physician will help you to manage your blood glucose and can control other conditions that boost diabetic eye diseases.
The ophthalmologists treat eye conditions using a laser process called vitrectomy; this prevents further deterioration of your blood vessels to preserve your vision. Your doctor might recommend treatment even if you don’t have any vision problems.
Laser treatment, also known as laser photocoagulation, works by developing tiny, painless retinal burns that seal leaking blood vessels and reduce inflammation. The number of burns and treatments required depends on how far the condition has progressed. You need to wait for several months to see whether the treatment works for you.
The physician might recommend vitrectomy surgery when you have a hemorrhage that is difficult to clear. You might also undergo this treatment when laser treatment is not effective to stop the growth of new weak vessels or if you have a retinal detachment.
Vitrectomy involves the process of draining the substance in your eyes; this clears any blood present in the vessels and eliminates scar tissue. The physician then replaces the vitreous fluid with a substitute one.
Laser and vitrectomy are effective treatments, but they will not restore lost vision. However, they prevent further loss of eyesight. This means you should have realistic expectations.
Diabetic eye diseases can be prevented through the control of blood glucose and regular eye check-ups. Maintaining optimal blood sugar lowers the risk of developing retinopathy. It also prevents the deterioration of existing retinopathy.
Apart from taking insulin and other medication to control your blood glucose, regular eye check-ups are the best when it comes to detecting early diabetic eye diseases. Folks with type 1 diabetes ought to go for a complete eye exam within 5 years after diagnosis. Those with type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, ought to have an eye exam as soon as they are diagnosed with diabetes.
People with diabetes are prone to eye diseases, such as Diabetic retinopathy, which is the most prevalent condition. When left untreated, it can progress and even cause total eyesight loss. Ophthalmologists can help you to prevent eye loss and further deterioration of eye conditions.