Patients with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing eye conditions as a disease complication. These conditions can lead to vision loss and blindness, including diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in the United States.

Diabetic eye conditions often develop without noticeable vision loss or pain, so significant damage may have occurred when patients notice any symptoms. For this reason, diabetic patients need to have their eyes examined at least once a year. In addition, early detection of eye disease can help prevent permanent damage.

Diabetic-related eye problems develop from high blood sugar levels, which can cause damage to blood vessels in the eye. Over 40 percent of patients diagnosed with diabetes develop eye disease due to their condition. However, the risk of developing eye problems can be reduced with regular eye exams and controlling blood sugar levels with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Treatment of Diabetic Eye Conditions

Other than controlling blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar levels, treatment is not needed during the first three stages of diabetic retinopathy. The fourth stage, proliferative retinopathy, is treated with a laser surgery procedure known as scatter laser treatment. The abnormal blood vessels are ablated during the procedure, causing them to shrink. This procedure works best once the blood vessels begin to bleed. Severe blood vessel bleeding may need to be surgically corrected with a vitrectomy procedure to remove the blood from the eye.

Treatment for macular edema usually includes a laser procedure called focal laser treatment. During this procedure, several hundred minor laser burns are placed in the areas of retinal leakage around the macula to prevent leakage and reduce the amount of fluid in the retina. This helps reduce the risk of vision loss and may improve lost vision in a small number of cases. Focal laser treatment is performed in your doctor‘s office and can usually be completed in one session.