Diabetic Eye Diseases & Treatments
Patients with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing eye diseases that can cause vision loss and blindness, such as diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma. These and other serious conditions often develop without vision loss or pain, so significant damage may be done to the eyes by the time the patient notices any symptoms. For this reason it is very important for diabetic patients to have their eyes examined once a year. Diagnosing and treating eye disease early can prevent vision loss. It is also important to maintain a steady blood-sugar level, take prescribed medications, follow a healthy diet, exercise regularly and avoid smoking.
The Most Common Diabetic Eye Disease:
Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. In some people with diabetic retinopathy, retinal blood vessels may swell and leak fluid. In other people, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. These changes may result in vision loss or blindness.
Can diabetic retinopathy be treated?
Yes. Your eye care professional may suggest laser surgery in which a strong light beam is aimed onto the retina. Laser surgery and appropriate follow-up care can reduce the risk of blindness by 90 percent. However, laser surgery often cannot restore vision that has already been lost. That is why finding diabetic retinopathy early is the best way to prevent vision loss.
What can you do to protect your vision?
Finding and treating the disease early, before it causes vision loss or blindness, is the best way to control diabetic eye disease. So, if you have diabetes, make sure you get a dilated eye examination at least once a year.
Thanks to advances in optical technology, almost everyone can now wear contact lenses, regardless of the type or extent of their vision problems. That includes patients with astigmatism and those who need bifocal or multifocal lenses.
At The Eye & Laser Center, we offer a comprehensive array of contact lenses to suit our patients’ individual needs—from daily disposables to extended-wear soft contacts to rigid gas-permeable lenses. Talk with us to find out which contact lenses are best for you.
Daily-Wear Soft Contacts
Daily-wear soft contact lenses are by far the most popular type of contacts worn. Made of a flexible plastic polymer, daily-wear lenses are put in each morning and taken out each night. They rest in a cleaning solution while you sleep. Daily-wear contacts come in many colors and typically last about one year.
Disposable soft lenses are intended to be thrown out and replaced after you’ve worn them for a certain length of time. This makes them even easier to maintain than regular soft contacts. Many disposable lenses are designed for replacement each morning, every two weeks, or even every three months. Daily-wear disposables are worn during waking hours only, while extended-wear disposables can be worn for longer periods.
Extended-Wear Soft Contacts
Extended-wear soft contact lenses can be worn all the time, including while you sleep. Depending on whether you have 7-day (standard) or 30-day lenses, you only need to take out and clean your contacts once a week or once a month. Extended-wear lenses are made of soft silicone that retains moisture longer than daily-wear contacts, allows more oxygen to reach the eye, and prevents bacteria and protein buildup.
Although many patients prefer the convenience of 30-day contacts, be aware that they tend to be stiffer than 7-day lenses, scratch more easily and may be blurrier.
Rigid, gas-permeable contacts offer several benefits over soft lenses. They:
- Can correct a wider range of vision problems, including a high degree of astigmatism;
- Provide sharper vision than most soft lenses;
- Allow more oxygen to pass through to the eye, reducing the risk of corneal irritation;
- Are more durable than soft lenses and don’t need to be replaced as often, lasting as long as two or three years.
Because they are much harder than flexible contacts, gas-permeable lenses may take some getting used to when you first start wearing them. They are also more likely than soft lenses to slip off the center of your eye and require adjustment, making them an inconvenient choice for patients who play sports or participate in other demanding activities. However, most patients soon grow accustomed to the feel of gas-permeable lenses and are satisfied with the improvement in vision they offer without the need for glasses.