If you have diabetes mellitus, your body does not use and store sugar properly. High blood-sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in the retina, the nerve layer at the back of the eye that senses light and helps send images to the brain. The damage to the retinal vessels is referred to as diabetic retinopathy.
Dr. Baker can determine if you have diabetic retinopathy. It can be diagnosed and often treated before you are aware of any vision problems. Your eyes will be dilated and an ophthalmoscope will be used to look inside the eye. If the condition is found to exist, color photographs of the retina may be ordered, or a fluorescein angiography may be done, which uses an injected dye to detect where fluid is leaking.
The best way to prevent the development of retinopathy is strict control of blood sugar levels. If high blood pressure and kidney problems are present, they need to be treated. Laser surgery and vitrectomy, which is a microsurgical procedure that removes the blood-filled vitreous and replaces it with a clear solution, are options for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy. The appropriate procedure will be determined by Dr. Baker depending on the severity and type of retinopathy diagnosed.
Only a small percentage of those diagnosed with retinopathy will have serious vision problems. You can reduce your risk by visiting your ophthalmologist regularly. People with diabetes should have eye exams at least once a year. You should have your eyes checked promptly if you experience visual changes that affect only one eye, last more than a few days, or are not associated with a change in blood sugar.
Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology