Diabetic eye disease and macular degeneration

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The retina is a light-sensitive layer that covers the interior surface of the back of the eye. Photosensitive cells, called rods and cones, convert light energy into signals that are carried to the brain by the optic nerve. In the middle of the retina is a small dimple called the fovea centralis, the center of the eyes’ sharpest vision and the location of most color perception.

A retinal detachment occurs when the retina is pulled away from its normal position. The retina does not function when detached and vision is blurred, similar to film loose inside a camera. A retinal detachment is a very serious problem that, if left untreated, will usually cause severe loss of vision. In most cases, the retina can be surgically reattached in its original position.

Diabetic Eye Care

Individuals with diabetes do not use or store sugar properly, and high blood-sugar levels can cause damage to blood vessels. Damage to retinal blood vessels is referred to as diabetic retinopathy.

Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) is an early stage of diabetic retinopathy. Tiny blood vessels within the retina leak blood or fluid, and this fluid may cause the retina to swell or to form deposits. Many people may not notice visual problems in this stage of diabetic retinopathy, however, early evaluation and treatment improves long term visual progress.

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) is the more advanced form of diabetic retinopathy. It is caused by poor circulation and the widespread closure of retinal blood vessels. The retina responds by creating abnormal blood vessels which leads to bleeding and scar tissue inside the eye. Timely treatment, often with laser or injectable therapies, can prevent severe visual loss.

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a disease of the macula – a small area in the retina at the back of the eye. The macula allows you to see fine detail and do things such as read and drive. When the macula does not work properly, your central vision can be blurry and have areas that are dark or distorted. Macular degeneration affects your ability to see near and far, and can make some activities – like reading or threading a needle – difficult or impossible. Macular degeneration is the most common cause of severe vision loss in people older than 50.

Fortunately, development of injectable pharmaceutical therapies can now help reduce the impact of macular degeneration.