If you have diabetes, you should have your eyes examined at least once a year at the Cleveland Eye Clinic. It is possible that you could develop a disease called Diabetic Retinopathy. This disease is a leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. In some people with diabetic retinopathy, retinal blood vessels may swell and leak fluid. In other people, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. These changes may result in vision loss or blindness.
Often there are no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. Vision may not change until the disease becomes severe. Nor is there any pain. Blurred vision may occur when the macula – the part of the retina that provides sharp, central vision – swells from the leaking fluid. This condition is called macular edema. If new vessels have grown on the surface of the retina, they can bleed into the eye, blocking vision. But, even in more advanced cases, the disease may progress a long way without symptoms. That is why regular eye examinations for people with diabetes are so important.
Finding and treating the disease early, before it causes vision loss or blindness, is the best way to control diabetic eye disease. So, if you have diabetes, make sure you get a dilated eye examination at least once a year. Your eyes will be dilated during the exam. That means eyedrops are used to enlarge your pupils. This allows our eye care professionals to see more of the inside of your eyes to check for signs of the disease.
If you should have diabetic retinopathy laser surgery and appropriate follow-up care can reduce the risk of blindness by 90 percent. However, laser surgery often cannot restore vision that has already been lost. That is why finding diabetic retinopathy early is the best way to prevent vision loss.