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The Main Signs, Symptoms and Treatments for Diabetic Eye Diseases

Anyone with type 1 or type 2 diabetes is at risk for developing diabetic eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy. With November being Diabetic Eye Disease Month, we want to highlight some of the main symptoms, signs, and treatments for diabetic eye diseases, so our patients and customers who have diabetes or who have loved ones that do know what to look out for. 


                                                         

The majority of diabetic eye diseases usually develop without any symptoms to begin. That's why if you have any type of diabetes, it's vital that you get regular diabetic eye exams from your optometrist, even if your vision is functioning at 100 per cent.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Eye Diseases

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss in those who have diabetes. The disease occurs when there is too much sugar in the blood, which can either lead to a form of glaucoma or a retinal detachment. Most commonly though, it can lead to diabetic macular edema (DME). As time goes on, nearly half of all people who experience diabetic retinopathy will develop DME, which causes the blood vessels in the retina to leak fluid, causing swelling in the macula to occur.

The main signs and symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Spots or floaters in your vision
  • Vision that changes or varies
  • Colour vision that's been reduced
  • Empty or dark spots in your vision
  • Blindness or vision loss


The Main Treatments for Diabetic Retinopathy and DME

After your optometrist has determined you are suffering from diabetic retinopathy, they will most likely just keep a close watch on how your eyes are faring in the first few months after your diagnosis. This means you may require a dilated eye exam as frequently as every two to four months. 

As the disease progresses, immediate treatment is essential to reducing your risk of suffering vision loss. This is especially true if you have begun to notice changes to your vision. While treatment is unable to reverse any damage that has already occurred, it can help mitigate or stop your vision from deteriorating any further.

During this stage, it's also important that you manage your diabetes well by keeping your blood sugar level in the optimal range and to make sure your cholesterol and blood pressure are being controlled effectively as well. 

The main treatments for diabetic retinopathy and DME are:

Injections:
Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor therapy, also known as anti-VEGF medicine, can help slow down or reverse the course of diabetic retinopathy. Injections of corticosteroids are also an effective treatment.

Laser therapy:
If swelling is occurring in your retina, your eye doctor can use laser therapy or treatments to reduce the swelling by shrinking the blood vessels that are leaking, which should stop them from doing so.

Surgery:
If there are a large number of scars in your eye or your retina is bleeding substantially, a form of eye surgery called a vitrectomy may be recommended by your optometrist to correct either problem.


Your First Line of Defence Against Diabetic Retinopathy or DME: Regular Diabetic Eye Exams

If you have any form of diabetes your first and best line of defence against vision loss is a regular diabetic eye exam from your optometrist. Due to the fact diabetic eye diseases typically develop without any signs or symptoms at first, you don't want to wait until you begin experiencing changes to your vision to detect the problem, as the damage will most likely be irreversible.

Even if your vision is completely perfect, make sure you regularly get your eyes examined if you have diabetes. It could save your sight.


Our Calgary Optometrists Can Help Protect Your Vision

Are you experiencing any sudden changes to your vision? Do you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes? By conducting regular diabetic eye exams, our Calgary optometrists can help detect diabetic retinopathy or other diabetes-related eye diseases early on and lower your risk of vision loss. 

To find out more, contact us at our Crowfoot (403-547-5417), West Springs (403-242-0999) or Creekside (403-516-2292) branches.


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