People with diabetes are at risk for developing a blinding eye disease known as proliferative diabetic retinopathy. The eye condition occurs when there is an abnormal growth of new blood vessels inside the eye that can lead to bleeding or retinal detachment which can cause vision loss. The treatment options are laser or needles as recommended by ophthalmologists. The treatment aims to stop the growth of blood vessels and prevent vision loss from occurring.
People with diabetes should not skip eye appointments because they should be monitored regularly. It is recommended by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for people with type 1 diabetes to have their eye exam within the first five years after diagnosis. For people with type 2 diabetes, it is recommended to have an eye exam as soon as you receive the diagnosis. Type 2 diabetes is usually undetected and undiagnosed for years. It is possible that retinopathy already began during that time.
Eye appointments will help to determine and monitor if you have eye damage. A few tests will be conducted by your eye doctor to see if there have been any changes as a result of diabetes. It is important to keep your prescription up to date if you wear glasses or contacts. The frequency of eye exams that you may need will depend on how severe your retinopathy is.
What Are the Two Methods to Treat Diabetic Retinopathy?
The traditional way is with the use of lasers to make tiny burns in the retina which allows the abnormal blood vessels to shrink and prevent them from growing again. There has been another method introduced recently which involves injecting medication directly in the eye known to be anti-VEGF therapy. The two methods can preserve vision and control blood vessel growth. Researchers are finding the important difference between the two treatments.
What Would Happen if I Missed My Eye Appointment?
Some people with diabetes do not regularly visit their ophthalmologists as they should. Missing an eye appointment has a consequence on your vision. You are looking at potential blindness if you skipped an injection. Patients who have an interruption in their anti-VEGF therapy experienced severe and irreversible vision loss as the study has shown.
It is more devastating to your vision if you miss an injection as treatment. The laser treatment controls the disease permanently unlike with the injections which are given regularly. Patients need to understand the importance of attending appointments regularly.