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Diabetes is a frightening (and frighteningly common) -- disease that can damage your health on many levels -- including your ocular health and eyesight, through a disease known as diabetic retinopathy. But you don't have to let your eyes fall prey to this condition, thanks to the care we offer at our Ashburn VA optometry center.
Diabetes is a condition in which the baseline level of glucose (sugar) in your blood is abnormally high. This imbalance can be created by any health condition that damages the pancreas's ability to produce adequate amounts of insulin. One of the hallmarks of high blood sugar is blood vessel damage, starting with the smaller, more fragile blood vessels -- including the blood vessels that provide vital nourishment to the retinas of the eyes.
When these blood vessels are damaged, they begin to leak blood into surrounding tissues. This can cause macular edema, a condition in which the part of the retina that controls your central vision swells up. Blood may also leak into the normally-clear vitreous humor, the gel-like substance that fills the eye. Your body may try to compensate for the failed blood vessels by hurriedly creating a proliferation of new ones. Unfortunately, these weak, often defective new vessels may be even more prone to leakage.
Diabetic retinopathy may cause no obvious visual symptoms at all for many years. Eventually, however, you may experience excessive flashers and floaters, blurred or low vision, difficulty seeing colors or at night, and even totally blank areas in your visual field. Since the damage may accumulate quietly for a long time, the only way you can catch it early is by scheduling regular comprehensive eye exams with our optometrist, Dr. Seema Mohanan. Detailed inspection of the inside of the eye can reveal irregular blood vessels, macular edema, bleeding and other indicators. You might even know you have diabetes until an eye exam alerts you to signs of diabetic retinopathy!
The most important treatment for diabetic retinopathy is controlling its deadly underlying causes. We will urge you to work with your primary care physician to get your blood sugar under control, hopefully slowing or arresting the damage to your eyes. n the meantime, our Ashburn optometrist will monitor your eyes through regular exams to watch for any developments that require direct treatment. For instance, if your vitreous humor is clouded with blood, we may refer you for a procedure called a vitrectomy that replaces the gel with sterile saline. If you suffer from abnormal blood vessel proliferation, we may recommend injectable medications to halt the formation of new blood vessels.
Don't let diabetic retinopathy take your precious eyesight from you -- instead, take control of your health by calling 703) 687-4719 for an eye exam at OptimEYES. We want to help you hang onto your vision!