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Don't Lose Sight of Diabetic Eye Disease

6. Can Diabetic Retinopathy Be Treated?

Yes. Your eye care professional may suggest laser surgery in which a strong light beam is aimed onto the retina to shrink the abnormal vessels. Laser surgery has been proved to reduce the risk of severe vision loss from this type of diabetic retinopathy by 60 percent.

If you have macular edema, laser surgery may also be used. In this case, the laser beam is used to seal the leaking blood vessels.

However, laser surgery often cannot restore vision that has already been lost. That is why finding diabetic retinopathy early is the best way to prevent vision loss.

7. How Common Are the Other Diabetic Eye Diseases?

If you have diabetes, you are also at risk for other diabetic eye diseases. Studies show that you are twice as likely to get a cataract as a person who does not have the disease. Also, cataracts develop at an earlier age in people with diabetes. Cataracts can usually be treated by surgery.

Glaucoma may also become a problem. A person with diabetes is nearly twice as likely to get glaucoma as other adults. And, as with diabetic retinopathy, the longer you have had diabetes, the greater your risk of getting glaucoma. Glaucoma may be treated with medications, laser, or other forms of surgery.

8. What Research Is Being Done?

Much research is being done to learn more about diabetic eye disease. For instance, the National Eye Institute is supporting a number of research studies in the laboratory and with patients to learn what causes diabetic retinopathy and how it can be better treated. This research should provide better ways to detect and treat diabetic eye disease and prevent blindness in more people with diabetes.

9. What Can You Do to Protect Your Vision?

Finding and treating the disease early, before it causes vision loss or blindness, is the best way to control diabetic eye disease. So, if you have diabetes, make sure you get a dilated eye examination at least once a year.

To learn more about diabetic eye disease, write: National Eye Health Education Program, 2020 Vision Place, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-3655.

WebMD Public Information from the U.S. National Institutes of Health

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