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What’s the Connection Between Sleep Apnea, Concussion, and Your Vision?

Sleep Apnea 640A recent comprehensive sleep study on people with post-concussion syndrome showed that 78% were diagnosed with sleep apnea.

What came first: the concussion or sleep apnea? Determining the answer can be difficult. People who don’t get enough sleep already exhibit some of the symptoms of post-concussion syndrome even when they haven’t had one.

What we do know is that there is a connection between sleep apnea and concussion. Sleep apnea affects the recovery from a concussion, and at the same time, the condition may result from a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Where does vision come in?

Sleep Apnea and Concussions

For those having sustained a concussion, sleep is very important for a speedy and thorough recovery. A poor night’s sleep, as in the case of sleep apnea, may lead to impaired decision-making, cognitive loss, and symptoms of depression—all of which can interrupt the recovery process.

Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form of sleep apnea, is caused by a physical collapse or blockage of the upper airway that interrupts breathing during sleep. This also reduces blood and oxygen flow to the brain, making it difficult for those with a concussion to recover.

A lesser known type of apnea is central sleep apnea. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, this type is caused by a dysfunction in the brain that regulates breathing and sleep, which could also be affected by a TBI.

Sleep Apnea and Vision

As we all know, getting a good night’s sleep is essential to good health. There are a number of eye conditions that are exacerbated by poor sleep patterns and therefore may be associated with sleep apnea.

These include:

  • Floppy eyelid syndrome
  • Nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy
  • Papilledema
  • Glaucoma
  • Swelling of the optic nerve
  • Retinal conditions

Getting your eyes checked regularly is important as it allows your eye doctor to rule out any eye disorders and prevent potential vision loss. This is all the more important if you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea.

Concussions and Vision

Concussions can have a significant impact on the functioning of the visual system. Post-trauma vision syndrome is a group of symptoms that cause eye coordination problems, dizziness, and blurred vision after a concussion.

The symptoms of post-trauma vision syndrome can include:

  • Headaches
  • Double vision
  • Dizziness
  • Focusing problems
  • Problems with walking and stride

Severe concussions can cause double vision and blindness, while mild concussions can affect vision and cause visual dysfunction.

How a Neuro-Optometrist Can Help

Neuro-optometrists can help post-TBI patients in ways that other health care providers may not be able to.

Neuro-optometry deals with how the visual system impacts daily functioning. By training the brain to control and communicate with the eyes more effectively, symptoms like headaches and dizziness can be significantly reduced or disappear altogether.

If you have experienced a concussion or suspect you may have sleep apnea, contact Associates in Eye Care to follow up on a diagnosis and treatment for any vision problems you may be having due to either condition.

Associates in Eye Care serves patients from Somerset, Russell Springs, Jacksboro, and Jellico, all throughout Southern Kentucky and North Tennessee.

Frequently Asked Questions with our optometrists

 

Q: What’s the connection between sleep apnea, concussion, and your vision?

  • A: After sustaining a concussion, you may begin to experience sleep apnea. This not only affects the healing process but your vision as well.

Q: Is there a way to treat vision problems due to a concussion?

  • A: Yes. Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy can retrain the brain to relieve dizziness, headaches, double vision, and other TBI-related problems.

Request A Functional Visual Exam

What Is Vision Therapy?

by Dr. Katy Wilson

Vision therapy (VT) is a phrase that you might have heard lately surrounding Associates in Eye Care. You might wonder, what is vision therapy? How can it help ourselves or our kids? How does VT work? What are signs that VT might be necessary? I will try to answer these questions in order to shed some light on the amazing possibilities that are available through VT.

Broadly speaking, vision therapy is a customized program of both visual and physical activities that is designed to correct vision problems and improve visual skills. One way to look at Vision Therapy is as Physical Therapy for your eyes. If you or your child has a weak visual system we can do therapy on that system to make it stronger and more functional. In other words, Vision Therapy helps you use your eyes more easily.

VT starts with assessing each patient as an individual, and then specific activities are put into place to help strengthen the skills that person needs to use their eyes as a strong team. These abilities include overall coordination, body awareness, visual awareness, how well the two eyes work as a team, and how well the eyes send signals to the brain. We then put all of those skills together so that the individual can successfully, easily, and quickly process the information they see.

How well your eyes communicate with your brain is so important for learning and for comfortable vision. For example, when you are first learning to drive there is a lot to pay attention to. You have to pay attention to your arms to steer, your legs to hit the correct pedal at the correct pressure, other cars, road signs, the speed limit, the mirrors, the gas gauge etc…. It feels overwhelming at first. Once you master the wheel, the pedals, the roads, the mirrors, the AC, and the wipers you find yourself hardly even thinking about it anymore. You just do it without a thought.

When someone is unable to use their eyes effortlessly it is like they’re just learning to drive for the first time every single time they sit down to learn. It’s frustrating for them! There is so much they are trying to concentrate on at once. Focusing their eyes, avoiding seeing double, what word they are on, what line they are on, even what letter are they on… To most, this comes naturally. To some, it is a constant struggle. When someone has to really work to use their eyes as a team they often don’t have enough energy left to focus on the material they are reading. They are so focused on just making their vision functional that their ability to learn becomes severely compromised. Kids might get fidgety or lose focus. They might become irritable or disruptive in class. Both adults and kids might feel tired or have poor memory. These are all things that are completely understandable for someone who is struggling to use their eyes efficiently.

Alternatively, when the eyes can easily and effortlessly see they are then able to easily process what the brain is trying to learn. It is in this environment that a child’s performance skyrockets both in school and sports. The ultimate goal of Vision Therapy, and the ultimate goal of Associates in Eye Care, is to help our patients learn and live with comfortable and effortless vision.

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Dr. Wilson is the VT specialist at
Associates in Eye Care of Somerset

Cataract Facts

by Dr. Stephen McKinley

What is a cataract?

A cataract is a cloudy area in the lens of your eye. Cataracts are very common as you get older. In fact, more than half of all Americans age 70 or older either have cataracts or have had surgery to get rid of cataracts. At first, you may not notice that you have a cataract. But over time, cataracts can make your vision blurry, hazy, or less colorful. You may have trouble reading or doing other everyday activities. The good news is that surgery can get rid of cataracts.

There are many different types of cataracts

Most cataracts are age-related — they happen because of normal changes in your eyes as you get older. But you can get cataracts for other reasons — for example, after an eye injury or after surgery for another eye problem.

What are the symptoms of cataracts?

You might not have any symptoms at first, when cataracts are mild. But as cataracts grow, they can cause changes in your vision. You may notice that your vision is cloudy or blurry, and that colors look faded. You can’t see well at night or you see halos around lights. You may even notice that you begin to see double.

Who is at risk for cataracts?

Your risk for cataracts goes up as you get older. You’re also at higher risk if you have diabetes, or you smoke or drink too much alcohol. Family history plays a role, have had an eye injury, or that you have taken certain medications for a long time. An example of this is steroids. Steroids can cause certain types of cataracts to show up in your eyes.

What causes cataracts?

Most cataracts are caused by normal changes in your eyes as you get older. When you’re young, the lens in your eye is clear. Around age 40, the proteins in the lens of your eye start to break down and clump together. This clump makes a cloudy area on your lens — or a cataract. Over time, the cataract gets more severe and clouds more of the lens.

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Stephen McKinley is the chief optometrist
of Associates in Eye Care of Whitley City.
Call 606-376-5258 for an appointment.

Glaucoma Facts

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By Dr. Mark Jacobs, Associates in Eye Care of Somerset

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of diseases, but they all cause a loss of the fibers in the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. The damage is most often caused by elevated pressure in the eye, but is also possible to have glaucoma with normal eye pressures.

What are the symptoms of Glaucoma?

In most cases of glaucoma, there are no symptoms until the very end stages of the disease. That is the reason it is sometimes called the “silent stealer of sight”. Glaucoma causes loss of the peripheral, or side, vision first before ultimately taking central vision if not properly treated. This is one of the reasons it is so important to have regular eye exams, even if you think your current glasses are OK or even if you don’t need glasses or contacts.There is a type of glaucoma, called angle closure glaucoma, that will cause severe eye and brow pain, foggy vision, redness of the eye, and even vomiting. This is an ocular emergency and requires treatment within hours of onset to preserve sight.

How do you test for glaucoma?
At every comprehensive eye exam, we will measure the pressure oft he eye and do a careful examination of the optic nerve through a dilated pupil. If either the pressure is elevated above normal and/or the optic nerve has an appearance possibly indicative of glaucoma, we will order further testing and imaging to measure the peripheral vision, the ocular drainage system, and the thickness of the nerve fiber layer in the retina. In most cases, we will repeat the tests after a period of several months to monitor for changes that would indicate a need for treatment.

How do you treat Glaucoma?
Most patients with glaucoma are treated with a single eye drop used nightly. In those cases where that is not sufficient, we can add additional drops or perform a laser treatment in our office called SLT. In rare cases, it is required that the patient be sent for more extensive surgical procedures, but again, that is not often required.Generally, glaucoma patients are seen every 3-4 months to monitor their condition.

What is the prognosis for people with Glaucoma?
Worldwide, glaucoma is among the three leading causes of blindness.Untreated, most glaucoma patients would go blind within 10-15 years of developing the condition. Thankfully, with proper treatment and monitoring, most patients never notice any vision loss or other symptoms.

 

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Dr. Mark Jacobs is the chief optometrist
at Associates in Eye Care of Somerset.
Call 606-678-4551 to schedule your
appointment.

Protect Your Eyes From Strain And Injury At Work

by Dr. Matthew Testa, Associates in Eye Care of Jellico

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No matter what you do for a living you probably couldn’t do it without using your eyes. Whether you’re a mechanic, welder, or you work in an office on a computer all day; protecting your eyes is very important.

If you have a job that has a lot of dangerous equipment like landscaping, any job that requires grinding metal, or construction, the main thing you can do is wear safety glasses. Safety glasses are specially made using more durable lenses that will not shatter. They will stop fast moving metal and rocks. Safety glasses have saved countless eyes from potentially sight threatening injuries. If you are a welder or out in the sun all day, making sure you have proper protection from the light is also important. That can be either a welder’s mask or sunglasses to prevent UV rays from damaging your eyes.

If you work in an office or in front of a computer all day, there are a few tricks to help maintain healthy eyes. When looking at a computer screen, you tend to blink less, which can dry out your eyes. Keeping over-the-counter artificial tears at your work desk can help your eyes feel more comfortable throughout the day. Also, when looking at the computer for long periods of time some people feel eye strain. It is important to take 30 second breaks, where you either close your eyes or look at something far away (about 20 feet), every 20 minutes or so. This will help prevent eye strain and tension headaches. One last thing you can do to help your eyes stay healthy is get blue blocker or anti-glare coatings on your lenses to minimize glare and the amount of harmful blue light getting in your eyes throughout the day. To find out more about these safety options for your glasses, find your nearest Associates in Eye Care office.

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Dr. Matthew Testa can be reached
at our Jellico, TN office.
Call (423) 784-2020

What You Should Know About Macular Degeneration

by Dr. Todd Overley, Associates in Eye Care of Williamsburg

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over age 50. There are about 1.8 million Americans that have AMD and another 7.3 million are at risk for vision loss from AMD.Individuals with fair skin and blue eyes are at higher risk for developing AMD. Women tend to develop AMD at a younger age than men. There are genetic factors that may be involved as well, so if you have relatives with AMD it is important to have yearly eye exams.This eye disease occurs when there are degenerative changes to the macula, which is a small central part of the retina that is used to see fine details. AMD is a loss of central vision that can occur in a “dry” and “wet” form. The wet form occurs with fluid beneath the retina starts leaking through the retina from the blood supply beneath it leading to rapid vision loss.

Most people with macular degeneration have the dry form. While there is no specific treatment for dry AMD, studies have shown a potential benefit from over the counter vitamin supplements, a heart healthy diet, regular exercise, and stop smoking. The less common wet form may respond to injections of medications into the eye if detected and treated early.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of AMD

In its early stages, signs of macular degeneration include a gradual loss of the ability to see objects clearly, objects appear distorted, lines that you know are straight appear to look wavy, and a dark area in the center of vision that will not go away. These can often go unnoticed, so it is important to check each eye individually on a daily basis.

If you experience any of the above signs or symptoms, contact your doctor of optometry immediately for a comprehensive eye examination. Your optometrist will perform a variety of tests to determine if you have macular degeneration or any other eye health problems.

Central vision that is lost to macular degeneration cannot be restored. However, low-vision devices, such as telescopic and microscopic lenses, can improve existing vision.

Treatment of AMD

With “dry” macular degeneration, the tissue of the macula gradually deteriorates and becomes thin and stops working properly. There is no cure for dry AMD, and any loss in central vision cannot be restored.There seems to be a link between nutrition and the progression of dry AMD. Making dietary changes such as eating a heart healthy diet, exercise, and taking nutritional supplements can often slow vision loss.In about 10% of cases, “wet” macular degeneration occurs. This is when fluids leak from newly formed blood vessels under the macula. This leakage causes a sudden and severe loss of central vision. If detected early, wet AMD can be treated with intraocular injections of anti-VEGF medications.Researchers have linked nutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc to reducing the risk of certain eye diseases, including macular degeneration. So even though it may not prevent the occurrence of AMD, it may slow its progression.

Regular eye exams from your optometrist can help detect these changes in their earliest stages.

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Dr. Todd Overley is the chief optometrist
at Associates in Eye Care of Williamsburg, KY.
To schedule an appointment, call 606-549-0464.

3 Reasons Why You Should Kickstart the New Year With Vision Therapy

holidays mug blog imageIt’s that time of year again when we sit down with a pumpkin spice latte in hand and think of a resolution we can take upon ourselves for the new year. Here at Associates in Eye Care, we believe that the best resolutions are the ones that positively impact other areas of our lives and enhance our overall quality of life. Vision therapy offers just that! This therapy is made up of a series of customized visual exercises designed to develop or regain visual processing skills.

Vision Therapy is highly effective in treating:

  • Amblyopia, (or “lazy eye”)
  • Strabismus, (or “eye-turn”)
  • Eye movement disorders
  • Focusing disorders
  • Binocular vision problems
  • Vision, balance, and memory problems associated with brain injury

Even those with 20/20 eyesight can benefit from vision therapy because perfect eyesight doesn’t mean perfect vision. Below are the ways in which vision therapy will help you kick-off the new year.

Improve Existing Vision Skills

You’re good at what you do, be it at work, school or sports. But can you do better? By training the eyes and brain to work in unison, you increase your potential for greater performance. Not only will you be more efficient, but performing tasks will become more enjoyable. This especially applies to school-aged children, as their brains are still in rapid development. Vision therapy effectively enables the brain to correctly process information for optimal academic success.

Learn New Skills With Ease

Many people make it their resolution to learn a new skill in the upcoming year but an underlying vision problem can interfere with that. Since learning is 80% visual, vision therapy offers an excellent opportunity to gear up for success! Undiagnosed or untreated vision problems related to convergence and focus can cause memory and reading problems and hinder learning. our optometrists will use an array of tools, such as prisms, specialized lenses, filters, balance beams, and computerized visual activities to train the eye-brain connection and help you learn more efficiently in almost any area that requires vision.

Gain The Confidence You Crave

Whether you’re a pro-athlete or a 4th grader struggling to read, improved vision skills will boost your confidence. This confidence will surely trickle into other areas of your life leading to increased self-esteem.

Start 2020 by empowering yourself or your child with vision therapy. Call Associates in Eye Care to book your appointment today.

Associates in Eye Care serves patients in Somerset, Russell Springs, Jacksboro, and Jellico, and throughout Southern Kentucky and North Tennessee.

Request A Functional Visual Exam

Is My Child Too Young for Vision Therapy?

Preschool Children Vision TherapyThe first years of a child’s life are crucial in ensuring the healthy and normal development of various body parts, especially the visual system. As a child’s body grows, so do the eyes. This can cause changes in vision. Keeping a close eye on, well, your child’s eyes, can help ensure that they are developing in a healthy way.

It’s important for parents and teachers to be on the lookout for problems with visual processing, as they can interfere with a child’s academics, social life, and extracurricular endeavors. This is especially evident during the school years when reading, writing, homework, and after-school activities become a part of their normal daily routine.

Even if a child has no refractive errors (such as nearsightedness or farsightedness) and has 20/20 vision, he or she may still have difficulties with visual processing or focus. These types of visual complications are often more difficult to detect, but may still impact various aspects of a child’s development.

When a child’s visual difficulties hinder their learning or social interactions, it may be time to try vision therapy.

What is Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy is a personalized regimen of exercises that can improve and strengthen visual functions. Each patient has unique needs and different degrees of visual health, which is why our optometrists and the team at Associates in Eye Care create a customized vision therapy program to get the best results for your child.

Vision therapy is compared to physical therapy, only for the eyes instead of the entire body. The techniques and exercises can teach the eyes to improve specific areas of vision, such as focus, eye teaming, hand-eye coordination, and visual tracking, among other skills. The doctor may include prisms or special eyeglasses to boost the therapy program.

Most children’s vision therapy takes place in our office and usually once a week. You’ll be instructed to continue some of the exercises at home for 15-20 minutes daily, which will support the in-office treatment.

At What Age Can Children Begin Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy is offered to children as young as 6 years of age. Kids can develop problems with visual perception and clarity that aren’t always detected with a standard vision exam or school screening. Of course, every child is different, and the best way to know if they’re ready for vision therapy is to schedule a consultation with our optometrists.

Does Vision Therapy Really Work?

Vision therapy has been proven to improve visual skills and functions in both children and adults. It is an approved treatment by recognized organizations in the medical community, such as the American Optometric Association and the Canadian Association of Optometrists.

Keep in mind that it can take several months to notice significant improvement. Consistency is key. Young children, especially in the toddler years, need a steady routine to achieve the best possible results.

It’s important to note that vision therapy does not fix your child’s learning abilities or correct any refractive errors. The goal is to improve their visual function so that their skills in reading, writing, schoolwork, and social activities are strengthened for a better quality of life.

Contact our optometrists and the knowledgeable staff at Associates in Eye Care to schedule a consultation and see whether vision therapy is right for your child.

our optometrists serves patients in Somerset, Russell Springs, Jacksboro, and Jellico, and throughout Southern Kentucky and North Tennessee.

Request A Functional Visual Exam

 

8 Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes

Whether you live in a climate with cold winter weather or you are planning a ski trip up north, winter can be a challenge if you suffer from dry eyes. Dry, cool air, cold winds and even drier indoor heating can cause eye irritation, burning, itchiness and redness, and sometimes even excessively watery eyes as more tears are produced to compensate for the dryness. Many people have a chronic feeling that they have something in their eye and some even experience blurred vision. These symptoms can be debilitating!

Dry eyes is one of the most common complaints eye doctors get from patients during the winter season, especially in the cooler climates. That’s why we’d like to share some tips on how to relieve dry eye discomfort, and how to know when your condition is serious enough to come in for an evaluation.

Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes:

  1. Keep eyes moist using artificial tears or eye drops. You can apply these a few times each day when the eyes are feeling dry or irritated. If over-the-counter drops don’t help or if you have chronic dry eyes, speak to your eye doctor about finding the best drops for you. Since not all artificial tears are the same, knowing the cause of your dry eye will help your eye doctor determine which brand is best suited for your eyes.
  2. Use a humidifier to counteract the drying effects of indoor heaters or generally dry air.
  3. Point car vents or indoor heaters away from your face when the heat is on. Try to keep your distance from direct sources of heating, especially if they blow out the heat.
  4. Drink a lot! Hydrating your body will also hydrate your eyes.
  5. Protect your eyes outdoors with sunglasses or goggles – the bigger the better! Larger, even wrap-around glasses as well as a hat with a wide brim will keep the wind and other elements out of your eyes. If you wear goggles for winter sports, make sure they fit well and cover a large surface area.
  6. Soothe dry eyes using a warm compress and never rub them! Rubbing your eyes will increase irritation and may lead to infection if the hands are not clean.
  7. Give your eyes a digital break. People blink less during screen time which is why extensive computer use can lead to dry eyes. Follow the 20/20/20 rule by taking a break every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds and make sure you blink!
  8. For contact lens wearers: If you wear contact lenses, dry eyes can be particularly debilitating as the contact lenses can cause even further dryness and irritation. Contact lens rewetting drops can help your eyes feel better and may also allow you to see more clearly. Not all eyedrops are appropriate for use with contact lenses, so ask your optometrist which eyedrop is compatible with your contacts and cleaning solution. If rewetting drops don’t help, consider opting for glasses when your dry eyes are bad, and speak to your optometrist about which brands of contact lenses are better for dry eyes. Many people find dry eye improvement when they switch to daily single use contact lenses.

Chronic Dry Eyes or Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition in which the eyes do not produce enough tear film, or do not produce the quality of tear film needed to properly keep the eyes moist. While winter weather can make this condition worse, it is often present all year round. If you find that the tips above do not alleviate your discomfort or symptoms, it may be time to see a optometrist to see if your condition requires more effective medical treatment.

Diabetes and Your Eyes

Diabetes is becoming much more prevalent around the globe. According to the International Diabetes Federation, approximately 425 million adults were living with diabetes in the year 2017 and 352 million more people were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. By 2045 the number of people diagnosed is expected to rise to 629 million.

Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness as well as heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, neuropathy (nerve damage) and lower limb amputation. In fact, in 2017, diabetes was implicated in 4 million deaths worldwide. Nevertheless preventing these complications from diabetes is possible with proper treatment, medication and regular medical screenings as well as improving your diet, physical activity and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the hormone insulin is either underproduced or ineffective in its ability to regulate blood sugar. Uncontrolled diabetes leads to hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, which damages many systems in the body such as the blood vessels and the nervous system.

How Does Diabetes Affect The Eyes?

Diabetic eye disease is a group of conditions which are caused, or worsened, by diabetes; including: diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, glaucoma and cataracts. Diabetes increases the risk of cataracts by four times, and can increase dryness and reduce cornea sensation.

In diabetic retinopathy, over time, the tiny blood vessels within the eyes become damaged, causing leakage, poor oxygen circulation, then scarring of the sensitive tissue within the retina, which can result in further cell damage and scarring.

The longer you have diabetes, and the longer your blood sugar levels remain uncontrolled, the higher the chances of developing diabetic eye disease. Unlike many other vision-threatening conditions which are more prevalent in older individuals, diabetic eye disease is one of the main causes of vision loss in the younger, working-age population. Unfortunately, these eye conditions can lead to blindness if not caught early and treated. In fact, 2.6% of blindness worldwide is due to diabetes.

Diabetic Retinopathy

As mentioned above, diabetes can result in cumulative damage to the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy.

The retina is responsible for converting the light it receives into visual signals to the optic nerve in the brain. High blood sugar levels can cause the blood vessels in the retina to leak or hemorrhage, causing bleeding and distorting vision. In advanced stages, new blood vessels may begin to grow on the retinal surface causing scarring and further damaging cells in the retina. Diabetic retinopathy can eventually lead to blindness.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

The early stages of diabetic retinopathy often have no symptoms, which is why it’s vitally important to have frequent diabetic eye exams. As it progresses you may start to notice the following symptoms:

  • Blurred or fluctuating vision or vision loss
  • Floaters (dark spots or strings that appear to float in your visual field)
  • Blind spots
  • Color vision loss

There is no pain associated with diabetic retinopathy to signal any issues. If not controlled, as retinopathy continues it can cause retinal detachment and macular edema, two other serious conditions that threaten vision. Again, there are often NO signs or symptoms until more advanced stages.

A person with diabetes can do their part to control their blood sugar level. Following the physician’s medication plan, as well as diet and exercise recommendations can help slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy.

Retinal Detachment

Scar tissues caused by the breaking and forming of blood vessels in advanced retinopathy can lead to a retinal detachment in which the retina pulls away from the underlying tissue. This condition is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately as it can lead to permanent vision loss. Signs of a retinal detachment include a sudden onset of floaters or flashes in the vision.

Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)

Diabetic macular edema occurs when the macula, a part of the retina responsible for clear central vision, becomes full of fluid (edema). It is a complication of diabetic retinopathy that occurs in about half of patients, and causes vision loss.

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy and Diabetic Macular Edema

While vision loss from diabetic retinopathy and DME often can’t be restored, with early detection there are some preventative treatments available. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (when the blood vessels begin to grow abnormally) can be treated by laser surgery, injections or a procedure called vitrectomy in which the vitreous gel in the center of the eye is removed and replaced. This will treat bleeding caused by ruptured blood vessels. DME can be treated with injection therapy, laser surgery or corticosteroids.

Prevent Vision Loss from Diabetes

The best way to prevent vision loss from diabetic eye disease is early detection and treatment. Since there may be no symptoms in the early stages, regular diabetic eye exams are critical for early diagnosis. In fact diabetics are now sometimes monitored by their health insurance to see if they are getting regular eye exams and premium rates can be affected by how regularly the patients get their eyes checked. Keeping diabetes under control through exercise, diet, medication and regular screenings will help to reduce the chances of vision loss and blindness from diabetes.