Diabetes mellitus is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness worldwide, and, is the most common cause of blindness in people younger than 65 in the United States.
In addition to being a leading cause of blindness, diabetic eye disease encompasses a wide range of problems that can affect the eye such as a reversible, temporary blurring of the vision, to sever permanent loss of vision. It also increases the risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma.
Some people may not realize they have had diabetes mellitus for several years until they begin to experience problems with their eyes or vision. Severe diabetic eye disease most commonly develops in people who have had diabetes mellitus for many years, but they have had little or poor control of their blood sugar over that period of time.
If you have fairly large, rapid shifts in your blood sugar levels, you may notice that your vision becomes blurry. This may occur prior to the diagnosis of diabetes mellitus, or it may develop after the initiation of treatment or a change in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. The sugar in the blood can diffuse into (or out of) the lens of the eye and cause it to swell (or shrink) resulting in blurring vision. This difficulty with vision or focusing will disappear once blood sugar levels have been stable for a few days.
If you watch your diet, exercise, monitor your blood sugars, and take your diabetic medications, the chances of developing serious problems from diabetes decrease dramatically. The most important method of preventing eye disease related to diabetes is to maintain strict control of your blood sugar. High Blood pressure and high lipid or cholesterol levels must also be treated to decrease damage to the blood vessels within the eye.
When to Seek Medical Care
Even if you are not experiencing any symptoms due to your diabetes mellitus, you should have an annual eye examination. If you note any significant changes in your vision, other than a mild temporary blurring, you should contact us immediately.
Diabetic Eye Disease Treatment
Medical treatment of diabetic eye disease is generally directed at the underlying problem – the diabetes itself. The better control you have of your diabetes, the fewer problems you will have in the long run.
Currently, effective medications do not exist to directly treat diabetic retinopathy and surgery (i.e. laser) is the treatment of choice.
Surgical treatment of diabetic eye disease most commonly involves treatment of the retina with an argon laser.
For background diabetic retinopathy, focal/macular photocoagulation or grid macular photocoagulation is performed. During this laser treatment, a highly focused beam of laser light is used to treat the leaking blood vessels or to treat the area of retinal swelling.
For proliferative diabetic retinopathy, pan retinal photocoagulation (PRP) is performed. During this treatment, the entire retina, except for the macula (the center of the retina), is treated with laser spots to decrease the oxygen demand of the retina and remove the need for these new blood vessels to grow.
In Case of Emergency
We are available to our patients day and night. If you have a problem or questions after hours, please call our office number (830) 896-2600 to get instructions for the doctor on call. If it is a true emergency, please go to the nearest emergency room.
For non-emergency question and problems, please call our office during regular hours. Our office staff will take the appropriate information and distribute it to the doctor. Please give detailed information so the doctor will be able to evaluate your needs as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
Our regular office hours are Monday - Friday 8:30 am. to 5:30 p.m. Appointments during the noon hour are available with some of our doctors. During the weekdays we offer full service, including procedures and minor surgeries.
All visits to our office are by appointment only. Our receptionist will inquire of your medical concerns in order that sufficient time be set aside on the appointment schedule. Please give them adequate information and note your insurance provider or if you do not have an insurance provider at this time.