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Frequently Asked Questions

Diabetes and the Eye

Diabetes and the Eye
Diabetes often causes changes in the microscopic blood vessels inside the eye. This leads to poor blood circulation within the eye and to damage of the retina (the film-like membrane responsible for vision). At the Southland Eye Specialists Plaza, only ophthalmologists with specialized training in retina problems treat retinal problems.

Retinal edema
Damaged eye blood vessels may leak fluid into the retina. The retina swells (edema) and vision may be affected. Some forms of edema absorb spontaneously and leave no permanent damage. Other forms tend to progress and must be treated with lasers. The purpose of laser treatment is to preserve current visual level. Only 15% of patients report improvement in quality of vision after treatment. Still, treatment is very important because it tends to reduce additional visual loss. Since treatment is often unable to restore lost vision, it is important to treat early, before much vision is lost. Diabetics can help preserve their vision by undergoing periodic eye exams and by seeking care promptly when any symptoms appear.

Retinal neovascularization
When microscopic blood vessels over large areas of the retina are severely damaged the eye tries to compensate by inducing remaining blood vessels to multiply ("Neovascularization" - a form of "Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy"). The new blood vessels are abnormal and are not helpful. Some types may be left alone and just observed periodically. Other types, if left untreated, may rupture and cause bleeding with severe visual loss.

Intraocular hemorrhage
When the abnormal blood vessels rupture, bleeding inside the eye follows. Visual loss may be significant. Laser treatment seals abnormal blood vessels and helps prevent hemorrhages.

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