November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month, so there’s no better time to talk with your eye doctor about protecting your vision against complications from diabetes.
Diabetes puts many patients at a higher risk of eye disease, damage, or infection. One of the most common causes of vision loss among diabetic patients is diabetic retinopathy. Understanding your risk is one of the first steps that you can take to preserving your eyesight for years to come.
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is typically identified and treated depending upon its stage. There are two stages of the condition: early diabetic retinopathy—often mild or moderate in severity—and advanced diabetic retinopathy—more severe and often requires treatment.
In early diabetic retinopathy stages, patients may not require treatment specifically for retinopathy. Instead, their doctor may suggest they adhere to a strict observation plan. These patients typically come in for more frequent eye exams so the staff at Grin Eye Care can closely monitor, evaluate, and assess the progression of the condition.
In addition, patients with early-stage diabetic retinopathy should work with their endocrinologist to help improve their diabetes management. Simple changes to your diet, lifestyle, and current medications can often help reduce the effects of diabetes on your eyes. Poor diabetes management can lead to drastic negative changes in your eyesight.
Advanced or proliferative diabetic retinopathy typically requires treatment. While treatment options can vary between each patient, there are a few treatments that we generally use.
Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment Options
Photocoagulation – This treatment utilizes focal laser treatment to help slow or stop the flow of fluid into the eye. While focal laser treatment generally does not correct the problem, it helps to keep blurry vision from becoming blurrier.
Vitrectomy – This approach utilizes small incisions in the eye that release the excess buildup of fluid and can remove some of the scar tissue that pulls on the retina and distorts your vision. This procedure is typically completed in a hospital setting while the patient is placed under general anesthesia.
Medication Injections – There are a variety of medications that can be injected directly into the eye to help with the effects of diabetic retinopathy. These medications include VEGF inhibitors, or vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitors, that help to stop the new growth of blood vessels in the eye. This medication works by simply blocking the signal the body sends to generate new blood vessels.
Panretinal Photocoagulation (PRP) – This laser treatment is often referred to as a scatter laser approach, and it is used to shrink abnormally large blood vessels in the eye. This approach is completed in our office and does not require a hospital stay. Some patients notice that their vision is blurry for a day before clearing up.
If you have diabetes, November is a great time to come into Grin Eye Care for a comprehensive eye exam. Our trusted team of eye doctors and vision specialists will work with you to develop a plan to monitor and treat any potential diabetic eye disease you may be experiencing. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment in Leawood, KS, Olathe, KS, or one of our satellite locations in Paola, KS, Lawrence, KS, Raymore, MO, and Independence, MO.