Dr. Robert Deck of Michigan has practiced optometry for more than 20 years. Robert Deck, OD, currently serves on the team at Todd Harris and Associates in Lapeer, Michigan, where he welcomes patients with diabetic eye disease.
Diabetic eye disease is not a single disorder but rather a classification granted to those conditions that frequently arise in patients with diabetes. A subset of such conditions is diabetic retinopathy, which occurs when chronic high blood sugar causes damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eye. This in turn causes swelling in the blood vessels of the retina, which can then leak or distort in shape.
In some cases, leaking fluid collects in an area of the retina known as the macula, which is responsible for vision focus. Such collection of fluid causes the macula to swell and in turn leads to blurring of vision. This is the most common contributor to vision loss in patients with diabetes.
Untreated diabetic retinopathy may also advance to the disease’s proliferative form, in which damage to retinal blood supply leads to the growth of new blood vessels. This new growth is abnormal and prone to leakage, which may cause scar tissue development and retinal detachment, often leading to irreversible vision loss.
Because effects of diabetic retinopathy become more severe as the disease progresses, early detection is crucial. If discovered soon enough, physicians may be able to slow leakage through laser therapy or injected medication, the latter of which can also limit the growth of abnormal blood vessels.