Diabetes Bites Newsletter

ALICIA-unleashedAlicia: UnLeashed!

eye health for diabeticsThis time of year I always think a lot about eye health. It’s probably all the squinting in the sun, and the reflections off the water. Summer and winter are key times to pay close attention to our eye health. the reflection of intense sunlight angles off water and snow double the damage that UV rays can are doing! Be sure to wear quality UV blocking sunglasses while outdoors, driving, and particularly when near water.

I am a person who lives with a lot of vision issues, so protecting my eyes is critical to me. I take every preventative measure I can to maintain my sight, but I am also encouraged a vision treatment and restoration therapies are developed and approved. In May the FDA approves the use of Eylea to treat all stage of diabetic related retinopathy. This is huge news since most current treatments are only approved for more advanced cases. Eyelea blocks the synthesis of a protein required to grow blood vessels in the eye retina. The medication is injected into the eye by an ophthalmologist. (I have spoken to multiple patients who have had intra ocular injection therapy and they assure me that while the gross out or anxiety factor of the procedure might be high, it’s actually not painful and very quick.)80% of  patients in a recent study showed a significant improvement in their retinopathy.

This is most exciting because it can be used very early in treatment with very good results. Since many people have already developed some degree of retinopathy by the time they are even diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, having FDA approved early intervention is very encouraging.

When it comes to maintaining vision, prevention is essential!! We often assume that failing eye sight is a normal part of aging, this is NOT TRUE! Most vision loss issues can be prevented. As people with diabetes, the top of our list is diabetes related retinopathy. This is vision loss due to over growth or tiny blood vessels in the retina of the eye. These vessels can then bleed causing us to lose areas of vision. The retina acts like a projection screen and over growth of vessels is like a wrinkle in the screen, then a bleed is like throwing black paint across the screen, the image becomes blurry, then gone entirely.

Diabetes related retinopathy is a #1 cause of blindness in adults in the developed world.

How to prevent diabetes related retinopathy:

  1. Maintain healthy blood pressure of 120/80 or lower for most adults. Work with your healthcare team to maintain a healthy, low sodium diet, quit smoking, and take blood pressure regulating medications as ordered.
  2. Maintain good blood sugar management. Maintaining healthy, in range blood sugars with reduced variability is key to promoting eye health and reducing retinopathy risks. Here at IDS we work with our patients to achieve these goals to reduce their long term complication risks. We also work with patients experiencing complications to minimize the damage occurring and help them on the road to recovery.
  3. Screening Is Key! Having an annual dilated eye exam allows your eye care provider to see whether you have an increased in vascular growth in the retina, or if there are any signs of bleeding. Early detection allows for early treatment. Before vision is lost there are highly effective treatments to completely prevent diabetes related retinopathy. There are also treatment options to reduce bleeding if detected early.