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If youhave diabetes, your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are too high. Over time, this can damage your eyes. The mostcommon problem is diabetic retinopathy.It is a leading cause of blindness in Canadian adults. At Grande Prairie Eye Care we take care to examine your eyes thoroughly.
Your retina is the light-sensitivetissue at theback of your eye. You need a healthy retina to see clearly. Diabeticretinopathy damages the tiny blood vessels inside your retina. At Grande Prairie Eye Care we take great care to examine your eyes thoroughly and we co-manage your treatment.
You may not notice it at first.Symptoms can include
Two other eye problems can happento people with diabetes. A cataract is a cloud over the lens ofyour eye. Surgery helps you see clearly again. Glaucoma happens when pressure builds up in the eye,damaging the main nerve. Eye drops or surgery can help. If youhave diabetes, you should have a complete eyeexam every year. Finding and treating problems early may save your vision.
Overtime, diabetescan cause changes in the retinaat the back of the eye. Your retina helps you see by acting like a filmprojector in the back of your eye, projecting the image to your brain. Thechange is called retinopathy and there are a couple of different types thataffect people with diabetes. The macula, which is the part of your retina thathelps you to see colour, becomes swollen (macular edema) and this can causeblindness. A second complication is the growth of new weak blood vessels thatbreak and leak blood into your eye so the retina cannot project images to yourbrain (proliferative diabetic retinopathy). The result is a loss of sight.
Diabetescauses changes in the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. In the earlystages, known as nonproliferative or background retinopathy, the arteries inthe retina weaken and begin to leak, forming small, dot-like hemorrhages (bloodflow from the ruptured blood vessel). These leaking vessels often lead toswelling (edema) in the retina and decreased vision. At this stage, vision maybe normal or it may have started to blur or change. About one in four peoplewith diabetes experience this problem.
Whenretinopathy advances, the decreased circulation of the blood vessels deprivesareas of the retina of oxygen. Blood vessels become blocked or closed, andparts of the retina die. New, abnormal, blood vessels grow to replace the oldones. They grow along the retina and along the surface of the vitreous (thetransparent gel that fills the inner portion of the eyeball). Unfortunately,these delicate vessels hemorrhage easily. Blood may leak into the retina and vitreous,causing “floaters” (spots that appear to drift in front of the eyes), alongwith decreased vision.
This iscalled proliferative retinopathy, and it affects about one in 20 people withdiabetes. It can lead to severe visual loss or blindness. In the later phasesof the disease, continued abnormal vessel growth and scar tissue may causeretinal detachment and glaucoma.
Theeffect of retinopathy on vision in people with diabetes varies widely,depending on the stage of the disease. Common symptoms can include blurredvision (often linked to blood glucose levels), flashes or sudden loss ofvision. However, diabetes may cause other eye symptoms.
Fluid canleak into the center of the macula, the part of the eye where clear, detailed visionoccurs. The fluid swells the macula and blurs the vision. Called macular edema,it can occur at any stage, although it is more likely to occur as the diseaseprogresses. About one-half of people with proliferative retinopathy also havemacular edema.
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