Diabetic eye disease is a blanket term for several eye conditions that can result from diabetes. The most common diabetic eye disease is diabetic retinopathy, though glaucoma and cataracts can also be linked to diabetes. With nearly 30 million Americans currently affected by diabetes, diabetic eye disease should be a top concern.

Nearly 30% of diabetic patients over 40 suffer from diabetic retinopathy, which is the leading cause of blindness amongst American adults.

Diabetic eye diseases are progressive, so early detection and diagnosis is critical to retaining your vision. Unfortunately, each year more than eight million cases of diabetes are left undiagnosed in the U.S. We can detect the early signs of diabetic retinopathy during a regular eye exam, sometimes before you suffer from any symptoms.

Diabetic Eye Disease: Cataracts

Cataracts are common formations that can affect anyone, though they’re more likely to form in diabetic patients at a younger age. Along with this increased risk for cataracts, diabetic patients’ cataracts progress at a faster rate than average. Since cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide, this can result in a dangerous threat to diabetic patients’ vision.

Luckily, though cataracts may progress rapidly, they’re treatable. Cataract surgery is the most common procedure performed in the U.S., and it’s successful in treating diabetic eye disease in our Southaven patients. If you’re concerned about cataracts associated with diabetes, you should schedule an appointment with us right away. Visit our Cataracts page to find out more.

Diabetic Eye Disease: Glaucoma

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S., and diabetes increases patients’ risk of all types of glaucoma. Since this disease is almost impossible to detect without an eye exam at our office, glaucoma often advances to the point of permanent damage before it is detected.

Along with increasing your risk of glaucoma, diabetes is also closely linked to the development of a rare type of the condition called neovascular glaucoma. In this condition, new, damaged blood vessels grow on the eye’s iris. It is difficult but not impossible to treat if caught in early enough stages. All diabetic patients should receive an annual eye exam. During this exam, we’ll test the pressure in your eye using a standard pressure test.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a major concern for our patients as it’s the most common diabetic eye disease. About four and a half million Americans suffer from this condition, which is the number one cause of blindness amongst American adults. Patients suffering from diabetic retinopathy suffer from damage to the retina due to changes in the blood vessels. Some patients’ ocular blood vessels swell and lea, while others grow new, abnormal blood vessels on the surface of the retina.

There are four stages of diabetic retinopathy:

  1. Mild nonproliferative retinopathy
  2. Moderate nonproliferative retinopathy
  3. Severe nonproliferative retinopathy
  4. Proliferative retinopathy

The first three stages of diabetic retinopathy don’t typically require any treatment. When you’re diagnosed with stage one­, two or three diabetic retinopathy, we’ll instead offer guidance on how you can better control your blood sugar to prevent progression of the disease. Proliferative retinopathy, on the other hand, must be treated with laser surgery to prevent vision loss.

There are no symptoms of diabetic retinopathy in its early stages. In the later stages of the disease, you may have blurred vision due to blood vessels swelling and bursting. The only way to detect the disease is to keep up with annual eye exams at our Southaven clinic, which are vital if you’re over 40 or have already been diagnosed with diabetes.