November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

If you have diabetes, you already know how important it is to stay on top of the condition by working with your doctor to monitor your blood sugar and overall health. But did you know that diabetes can also have a negative impact on your vision?

An middle-aged woman smilingNovember is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month, making it a great time to talk about the sight-stealing complications that can arise for people living with diabetes. In the United States, diabetes is the number cause of blindness. According to the National Eye Institute, over 7 million Americans are impacted by diabetic eye disease (like diabetic retinopathy and macular edema)!

If you have diabetes, it’s important to work closely with your trusted Collins Vision eye doctors to stay ahead of any potential complications that could affect your vision. Our own Dr. Jason Friedrichs has special interest and more than a decade of experience in this area.

Dr. Friedrichs is a board-certified ophthalmologist with residency training from the University of Iowa, which consistently ranks among the best ophthalmology training centers in the country by Ophthalmology Times and U.S. News & World Report. He has more than 10 years of experience in treating medical retina issues and has participated in numerous studies related to the latest in injection therapy and latest laser treatments.

Ask the Retina Expert: Dr. Jason Friedrichs

Here, Dr. Friedrichs answers a few of the top questions surrounding the issue of diabetic eye disease:

Which eye conditions are associated with diabetes?

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common microvascular complication among people with diabetes and results in more than 10,000 new cases of blindness each year. Diabetic macular edema is a related condition and is the most common cause of visual loss in people living with diabetes.

Although cataracts are considered a normal part of aging, people with diabetes are at higher risk for developing them at a younger age, two to five times more likely, to be exact. Additionally, people with diabetes are more likely to develop glaucoma, an eye condition that is associated with a build-up of pressure in the eye that can come in several forms or types.

What causes diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetes causes the weakening of the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. As a result, fluid and blood leak from these weakened vessels, and new vessels that grow can be distorted and begin to bleed. This change can injure the retina, leading to loss of vision.

What are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy typically develops without any warning signs. Damage to the eye can occur slowly and may go unnoticed until there is significant damage. For this reason, anyone with diabetes should receive regular monitoring by a retina specialist.

How are diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema treated?

Treatment for diabetic eye disease is highly individualized and will be based on your age, medical history, lifestyle and the degree of damage to your retina. In its earliest stages, diabetic retinopathy may not require treatment beyond regular monitoring by your eye doctor.

If treatment is required, we will go over all your options, including risks, benefits and alternatives, before deciding on the best treatment plan for your unique situation. Medical management typically includes intravitreal injections or laser therapy (also called photocoagulation) to seal or shrink leaking blood vessels.

Are there any new advancements in the area of treatments for diabetic eye disease?

Advances in technology have made it possible for us to diagnose many conditions sooner, which can result in earlier intervention and more preservation of sight. At Collins Vision, we’re proud to be a regional leader in diagnosing and treating many retina conditions, specifically those associated with diabetes.

MicroPulse Laser Therapy for More Precise Retina Treatment

We’re excited to let patients know we are among the first and only in the area to offer our patients the latest in laser technology for the treatment of diabetic macular edema: the IRIDEX patented MicroPulse Laser Therapy (MPLT). Compared to conventional laser treatments for diabetic eye disease, this new platform delivers the capability for more precise treatment with a lower risk for retinal damage.

Because of the patented micro-pulse technology, treatment can be repeated as often as needed without harm to your vision. MPLT chops the continuous-wave laser beam into a series of tiny, repetitive, low-energy pulses separated by a brief period of rest in between. This allows the retina to cool between pulses, preventing potential damage to the retina. MPLT treatment is performed right here in our office in a comfortable outpatient setting. Treatment takes just a few minutes, and most patients describe it as comfortable and pain-free. Unlike conventional laser treatment, many patients note improved visual function within a week of treatment, and there is no risk of treatment-associated visual loss.

See the Difference with the Vision You Deserve

From eye exams and eye disease management to LASIK, help +with middle-aged reading vision issues, and the latest advancements in cataract surgery, Collins Vision desires that every patient we are honored to serve would See the Difference with the vision they deserve. It would be an honor to serve you. Schedule an appointment today.