Diabetes is a condition where the sugar (glucose) in the body is too high. This causes damage to the body’s organs over time, including the eyes. It is estimated that 7.8% of the population of the United States has diabetes. Diabetes is more common with advancing age, with almost 25% of the population over age 60 affected. Dr. Michelle Akler and her staff at Akler Eye Center in Dearborn and Stering Heights MI are experienced in screening and treatment of diabetic eye conditions.
Diabetic eye disease (diabetic retinopathy) is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. This is why screening eye examinations to check for diabetic eye disease are so critical. Patients with diabetes should have their eyes screened yearly. A screening examination for diabetes must include dilation of the pupil (drops are placed in the eye to make the pupil larger) so that the retina can be thoroughly examined. If diabetic changes are found, Dr. Akler may recommend more frequent examinations, further testing, or referral to a retina specialist.
The retina is a thin layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye. Similar to the film in a camera, when light hits the retina it is translated into electrical signals that are sent to the brain, where the image of what we see is formed. When diabetic eye disease is present, common findings are bleeding and swelling in the retina. In early stages of the disease no symptoms are present, but screening eye examinations can allow for detection and treatment before sight-threatening changes develop. In more advanced diabetic eye disease, the eye can become filled with blood and the retina can become detached. This causes serious visual loss if left untreated.
When diabetic retinopathy is detected, a test called a fluoroscein angiogram is done. Dye is injected into the arm, and is photographed as it circulates through the back of the eye. This allows Dr. Akler to see which blood vessels are leaking. Another test called optical coherence tomography (OCT) uses a computer to measure how swollen the back of the retina (macula) is.
Treatments for diabetic eye disease include laser to seal off leaking blood vessels, which reduces swelling in the macula, and injection of medications into the eye to prevent growth of the abnormal vessels that cause bleeding.