November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month
Diabetic Retinopathy, a condition occurring in people with diabetes, causes progressive damage to the retina, the light sensitive lining at the back of your eye. It is a serious sight-threatening complication of diabetes.
Local Ophthalmologist Jonathan M. Frantz, MD, FACS, joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in reminding those who have diabetes or are at risk for the disease—especially people with black, Latino, Native American or Pacific Islander heritage — that having an annual dilated eye exam is an important step toward protecting your eyes and vision, along with proper medical care, careful glycemic (blood sugar) control, and other lifestyle choices that reduce the health impacts of diabetes.
According to Dr. Frantz, medical director of Frantz EyeCare, “The earlier diabetes is caught and appropriate lifestyle changes and treatment begin, the better the chance of avoiding vision loss and other health consequences.”
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:
• Seeing spots or floaters in your field of vision
• Blurred vision
• Having a dark or empty spot in the center of your vision
• Difficulty seeing well at night
Dr. Robert Sherman, a retina specialist at Frantz EyeCare, works closely with the other doctors at Dr. Frantz’s practice and area primary care doctors to provide quality, patient-focused eye care that is so important to patients with diabetes. Prolonged periods of high blood sugar may lead to the accumulation of fluid in the lens inside the eye that controls eye focusing. This changes the curvature of the lens and results in the development of symptoms of blurred vision. The blurring of distance vision as a result of lens swelling will subside once the blood sugar levels are brought under control. Better control of blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes also slows the onset and progression of diabetic retinopathy.
An eye doctor is an important member of the diabetes health care team. Often there are no visual symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. Part of living with diabetes and successful eye care is having a comprehensive dilated eye examination on at least an annual basis – more often for people with existing eye issues or more serious retinopathy. Early detection and treatment can limit the potential for significant vision loss from diabetic retinopathy.