If you have diabetes, you know that poorly controlled blood sugar can cause a variety of problems throughout your body. One of the most serious of these problems when it comes to your eyesight is swelling in the back of your eyes, known as diabetic macular edema (DME).
Initial symptoms of the condition include blurry vision and dull or faded color vision. If left untreated, DME can cause significant vision loss and even blindness.
Fortunately, our Clifton eye doctors at New Era Eyecare can offer tips on how to prevent this condition, as well as offer treatment when necessary.
Read on to find out more.
Preventing Macular Edema
If you have diabetes, keeping your blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure all under control is extremely important to prevent and minimize your risk of DME and limit its severity. If done well, this may result in up to a 25% lower risk of DME.
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and avoiding simple carbs and sweets, along with healthy exercise habits, can go a long way toward maintaining these vital measures.
If you already have DME, lifestyle changes can be an effective way to slow progression, but they often need to be supplemented with prescription medications and treatments in order to fully manage your condition and prevent vision loss.
Prescriptions and Treatments
Health care professionals have identified a protein called VEGF that is responsible for weakening the blood vessel walls in the retina when blood sugar levels are chronically high. Fortunately, certain medications that block the effects of VEGF on the blood vessels can help prevent this damage and reduce symptoms and severity of macular edema.
VEGF medications are administered by applying numbing drops to the eye, and then injecting the medication into the eye. This is done in-office by your Clifton optometrist.
Patients usually receive one injection per eye every six months. This treatment may be combined with other prescriptions and treatments for added benefit. Among these are corticosteroid eye drops to further reduce inflammation in the eye and make the anti-VEGF treatment more effective. Impants that release corticosteroid over time may also be prescribed, and can be inserted in-office.
Retinal laser photocoagulation treatment (RLPT) may also be done along with anti-VEGF medication. This is done by burning the retina so that leaky, damaged blood vessels in the eye are sealed up, reducing inflammation.
A Final Treatment Option: Vitrectomy
If no other treatment or medications work, your eye doctor may opt for a vitrectomy.
This surgical procedure involves removing the clear jelly-like substance that fills the inside of the eyeball, known as the vitreous humor, in order to increase the amount of oxygen that reaches the eye.
Want to learn more about how diabetes can affect your eyes, and how we can help preserve your vision? Contact our Clifton eye doctors at New Era Eyecare, or give us a call at 703-830-3977 today!
Is diabetic retinopathy reversible?
Unfortunately, damage caused by diabetic retinopathy is most often not reversible. By the time diabetic retinopathy has begun doing damage to your eyes and vision, the best your eye doctor can usually offer is treatments to prevent further damage and preserve your remaining vision.
Can macular edema go away on its own?
It is very rare for macular edema to go away without any type of treatment from an eye care professional. If you have diabetes and experience symptoms of macular edema, you shouldn’t wait for them to clear up on their own. Come see us for an emergency eye exam immediately.