Diabetes is a leading cause of vision loss and ongoing research is being done to help alleviate eye disease. Recently there have been new and exciting advances in diabetic eye disease. Learn more about these advances so you can discuss them with your health care team.
- There are now treatments available to help preserve your vision and minimize the risk of vision loss from diabetes. Researchers have made some wonderful advances in treating and preventing eye disease associated with diabetes, including diabetic retinopathy. Over the past three decades, clinical studies have discovered ways to help preserve your vision. It is important to see an ophthalmologist at least once a year for a complete eye exam that includes testing for glaucoma and cataracts. Your eye doctor may also recommend getting eye exams more frequently. Choose an ophthalmologist who is familiar with diabetic eye care.
- Bausch & Lomb introduced an eye vitamin supplement called Ocuvite. The supplement is specially developed for people with diabetes to help them maintain proper eye health. Fluctuating blood sugar levels may increase the free radicals in your body. Oxidative stress can play a role in damaging the blood vessels of the eye’s retina, referred to as diabetic retinopathy. Ocuvite contains antioxidants such as alpha-lipoic acid and genistein as well as essential nutrients to help reduce oxidative stress. Prevention is always the best option when it comes to diabetic eye disease. Discuss the possible use of this supplement with your health care provider.
- The diabetic retinopathy study showed that scatter laser treatment, also referred to as pan-retinal laser treatment, can reduce the risk of losing vision from proliferative diabetic retinopathy. The early treatment diabetic retinopathy study showed the value of laser treatment for macular edema. It also clarified the most viable time to initiate scatter laser treatment. Discuss the possibility of laser treatments with your ophthalmologist.
- The diabetic retinopathy vitrectomy study indicated vitrectomy surgery may help restore vision loss due to vitreous hemorrhage. The vitreous or gel like substance is removed and filled with a gas bubble to keep the shape of the inner eye. This is another study to discuss with your eye care provider.
- Additional studies revealed proper control of blood sugar levels can reduce the onset and progression of diabetic retinopathy for people with diabetes. Work with your health care team to find ways to maintain good blood sugar control. These may include a well-balanced diet, regular exercise and taking certain medication. Use a blood sugar monitor to gauge your progress. Report any extreme highs or lows to your doctor as soon as possible. To avoid eye problems, it is also important to maintain healthy blood pressure and lipid levels. Consult with your doctor about related health issues that could have an impact on your vision.
- Recently the FDA approved Eylea, made by Regeneron, for the treatment of diabetic eye disease. Formally known as aflibercept, these ocular injections are used for the treatment of diabetic macular edema (DME, commonly referred to as diabetic retinopathy). Eylea is the first vascular endothelial grown factor inhibitor that does not require the patient to have monthly eye injections. After five initial monthly injections, the recommend dose is one injection every eight weeks. Discuss these injections with your eye care professional.
- It is important to play an active role in your diabetes control if you want to reduce or prevent diabetic eye disease. Maintain blood sugars as close to normal as you can and talk to your physician about specific A1C levels. Take medications as directed by your doctor. Control your blood pressure and maintain a healthy weight. Losing just 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight can make a positive impact. Quit smoking and limit your alcohol intake. Avoid junk foods such as packaged, processed or fast foods that tend to have a high level of fat, sugar and salt. Eat a well-balanced meal plan that includes plenty of green leafy vegetables. Schedule an eye exam at least once a year or as suggested by your health care provider.
Progressive advances in diabetic eye disease are giving patients new hope. Being proactive about diabetes and eye care health can make a big difference. Schedule regular examinations with your doctor and ophthalmologist and report any concerns to your health care team immediately.