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When you think of diabetes complications, you may call to mind things like poor circulation, fainting spells, neuropathy in the extremities or even the loss of limbs. But did you know that diabetes can also cause you to lose your eyesight? Conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and its close cousin, macular edema, can permanently destroy retinal structures and wreck the fragile blood vessels that nourish the eye. Fortunately, you can protect your vision through prompt diagnosis and treatment at Primary Eyecare and Optical of Meridian.
Diabetes occurs when the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels efficiently. High blood sugar has detrimental effects on many parts of the body, including the circulatory system. The smaller and more delicate the blood vessels, the more likely the risk of damage -- and the interior of the human eye is fed by many such blood vessels. As the blood vessels that supply the retina begin to fail, parts of the retina may become permanently destroyed, a situation called diabetic retinopathy. In some cases, fluid may accumulate in the part of the retina known as the macula (macular edema). The macular may then swell up, distorting your central vision.
As diabetic retinopathy advances, the eye may grow new blood vessels to replace the old ones. But these new blood vessels are even weaker than the ones they're meant to replace, and they quickly fall prey to diabetes as well, leaking blood into the eye and tainting the normally clear vitreous humor.
One of the most frightening things about diabetic retinopathy is the fact that you may not notice any vision changes until your eyes have already experienced significant damage. The smartest way to avoid this scenario is to schedule annual eye exams with your Meridian eye doctor, Dr. Duong or Dr. Dooley. Optomap imaging of the eye's interior can reveal the telltale signs of diabetic retinopathy in its early stages, enabling us to prescribe the appropriate care immediately.
The first and foremost treatment for diabetic retinopathy is treatment of the underlying diabetes itself. We will urge you to talk to your family doctor about ways to bring your blood sugar levels down, including dietary changes, exercise, and medication. If leaky blood vessels have proliferated inside your eyes, we may also inject drugs that inhibit further such growth. Other recommendations may include laser treatment to seal leaks or a procedure to remove the clouded vitreous humor.
Remember, diabetes can irreversibly damage your eyes without your even knowing it -- so the sooner and more regularly you get your eyes checked, the better. Call Primary Eyecare and Optical of Meridian at 601-485-2020 to set up a comprehensive eye exam with our optometrist today!