As a common disease afflicting both young and old, diabetes has important implications for the eyes. Fluctuations in blood sugar can cause changes in the focusing of the crystalline lens within the eye and may cause temporary visual blurring, particularly if diabetic control is poor. Diabetes can also cause cataracts in young people, or accelerate the development of cataracts in older people.
Diabetic retinopathy is when the small blood vessels at the back of the eye start to leak or become blocked, and if it’s not detected early, it can cause blindness.
Tight control of diabetes can reduce the risk of retinopathy by 60% in type I (insulin dependent) and 40% in type II (non-insulin dependent) diabetes, and will also reduce the risk of other diabetic complications.
When people first develop diabetic retinopathy they exhibit no symptoms, but, if diagnosed at this early stage, it is a treatable condition, which is why it’s important for diabetics to have regular eye tests.
People with diabetes should have an eye examination at diagnosis and thereafter, on a yearly basis by their ophthalmologist.
Pan-Retinal Photocoagulation (Laser)
Laser photocoagulation uses the heat from a laser to seal or destroy abnormal, leaking blood vessels in the retina. The ophthalmologist may make hundreds of laser burns on the retina to stop the blood vessels from growing. Patients may need two or more treatment sessions, which are done as an outpatient procedure.