Eighty percent of patients with type 1 diabetes will develop retinopathy (persistent or acute damage to the retina of the eye) within fifteen years of their disease diagnosis, and eighty percent of patients with type 2 diabetes will develop retinopathy within ten years of their diagnosis.
However, early detection and intervention of eye issues in diabetes patients can help prevent and/or postpone damage to the retina and vision loss. This is why it is extremely important for patients with diabetes to get a comprehensive eye exam as close to their diagnosis as possible.
There are three main forms of diabetes-related eye disease, including:
1. Diabetic macular edema – occurs when blood vessels in the retina of patients with diabetes begin to leak, causing fluid build-up that can lead to vision loss.
2. Vitreous hemorrhage – occurs when the blood vessels in the retina begin to grow and bleed, which can eventually completely obscure vision.
3. Retinal detachment – occurs when the abnormal blood vessels associated with diabetic retinopathy stimulate the growth of scar tissue. This may cause spots floating in your vision, flashes of light or severe vision loss.
While proper blood sugar control and early intervention are key in preventing retinal damage and/or vision loss in diabetes patients, there have been many advancements in medications and surgical procedures that can help restore vision in diabetes patients who have already developed eye disease.
If you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to talk to your doctor about getting a comprehensive eye exam as soon as possible.
Our community is fortunate, as Cone Health has an exceptional network of ophthalmologists, primary care providers, endocrinologists and other diabetes-related specialists dedicated to caring for patients with diabetes and the complications that can occur with the disease.
Dr. Gary Rankin is an ophthalmologist at Retina and Diabetic Eye Center and a member of the Cone Health medical staff.
Dr. Rankin is a 1986 graduate of Baylor College of Medicine and completed his residency in ophthalmology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in 1990.
He completed fellowships in medical and surgical diabetic retinal at Beetham Eye Institute at Joslin Diabetes Center and in retina at Hermann Eye Center at the University of Texas Medical School.