Diabetic Eye Diseases
Diabetes is very common, especially among Latinos. According to a study by the University of Southern California, early detection and treatment is key to protecting the vision of patients within the Latino community. Besides causing issues such as heart attacks, strokes, amputation, and other concerns, diabetes will often affect the eyes.
All forms of diabetic related eye disease can lead to vision loss or even blindness. Many of the symptoms of diabetic related eye diseases are quite subtle, showing up only after the damage has already begun. Managing diabetes is critical to eye, as well as overall health. Early detection is critical in diabetic eye related diseases. Your eye doctor can help detect, treat and help to prevent vision loss early, rather than waiting until symptoms become apparent.
Diabetic Eye Diseases Include:
What is Diabetic Macular Degeneration?
In order to understand what diabetic macular degeneration is, you first need to understand a little about how the eye works. In normal vision, light enters through your cornea as it would through a pane of glass. The light rays are bent by the lens, allowing them to focus on the area at the very back of the of the eye known as the retina.
The retina is lined with millions of very tiny, light sensitive cells. Some of the cells are cone shaped, others are rod shaped. These specialized cells convert light into electrical impulses which are then sent to the brain via the optic nerve, where they are interpreted as images. These cone and rod cells become very densely packed in the center of the retina, in an area called the macula. The macula helps you to see clearly and pick up fine details.
Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration
In macular degeneration, these very important light sensitive cells begin to break down, slowly deteriorating, causing a gradual loss of vision. In fact, macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss among people over the age of 55 in the United States. People with both type I (also known as juvenile diabetes) and Type II (often called adult onset) diabetes are at risk for developing diabetic related macular degeneration. There are two major forms of macular degeneration: wet and dry. The vast majority are the dry form.
Dry macular degeneration causes a gradual loss of central vision. Wet, macular degeneration, on the other hand, is known to be more aggressive, often resulting in severe vision loss. In some cases, the disease can begin as dry, and then progress to wet. For unknown reasons, new blood vessels can form behind the retina, growing into the macula. These blood vessels are extremely fragile, meaning that they leak or rupture quite easily, and can cause severe vision loss.
Common symptoms of Macular Degeneration Include:
- Blurred vision
- Trouble recognizing faces
- A central blind spot that begins to expand
- Straight lines may appear wavy (caused by leaking eye fluid in the eye and assorted with wet macular degeneration)
To diagnose both wet and dry macular degeneration, the eye doctor uses special eye drops to dilate (or open wide), the pupil of the eye. Looking deep into the eye, the doctor can spot signs of damage. Other tests, such as graph-like pattern with a black dot can be used to determine if there are any signs of waves or missing sections. The doctor may also perform a test using dye that allows them to take a picture of the structures within the eye.