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How to Improve Your Vision

Your eyes give you so much, isn’t it time to give back?

In the US, it’s been estimated that 12 million people over the age of 40 have some type of vision impairment! Yet, while the numbers are overwhelming, it doesn’t mean poor eyesight is simply inevitable as you age.

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Myopia, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our Palatine eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.

Local Eye clinic in Palatine, Illinois

In addition to taking advantage of our expert eye care services, our eye doctor shares 7 ways to improve and protect your eyes against problems.

  1. Eat a nutritious diet: Eating heart-healthy foods also helps to protect your vision. That means following a diet with minimal saturated fats and salt, a moderate amount of lean proteins (legumes and nuts are great options), whole grains, and plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. In particular, antioxidant-rich foods, such as strawberries, walnuts, and dark leafy greens, can help decrease your chances of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.
  2. Visit your eye doctor for eye exams: A comprehensive eye exam can pick up on problems you may not have noticed, because many eye diseases don’t present symptoms at the early stages. That’s why regular eye exams by an eye care professional (not the same as basic vision screening done at your local pharmacy!) are critical, even if you have no vision complaints. Plus, as you age, it’s common for your vision to naturally change, and keeping your prescription up to date is a no-brainer keeping your vision clear.
  3. Keep chronic health conditions stable: Many chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, put your vision at a higher risk of complications. However, controlling your condition drastically reduces your chances of a problem. With diabetes, keeping blood sugars in the parameters recommended by your physician can help prevent diabetic retinopathy from developing and progressing. Controlling blood pressure also helps prevent retinal bleeding and swelling.
  4. Quit smoking: While genetics may be the number one risk factor for age-related macular degeneration, smoking is the number two risk factor! Smoking is also linked to cataract progression. You may not be able to control the genes you inherit, but you can control whether or not you smoke.
  5. Moisturize dry eyes: Dry eye syndrome is common, and we offer specialized dry eye exams and personalized treatments as a part of our eye care services. The frontline therapy for gritty and stinging dry eyes is lubricating eye drops, which can bring soothing relief and clarify your sight. There’s a variety of eye drops out there, and our eye doctor will recommend the most helpful type for your condition.
  6. Wear sunglasses & protective eyewear: Sunglasses with full UVA and UVB protection will keep your eyes safe against the dangers posed by the sun. However, we offer other types of safety eyewear in our eye care center, in addition to a fashionable collection of sunglasses. People often forget about safety goggles and sports glasses, which can prevent sight-threatening eye injuries when you’re working in the yard or around the house, or when you’re playing sports.Blue light blocking eyewear is another essential item for eye safety. These glasses are fit with lenses that protect your vision against artificial blue light, which is emitted from all digital screens. Not only does blue light disrupt your sleep cycle and leave you feeling fatigued, but it has also been linked to a higher risk of eye disease.
  7. Discard old makeup: Eye care also involves keeping unsafe products out of your eyes. Old makeup, such as mascara and eyeliner, often breed bacteria that lead to eye infection and painful symptoms, such as redness, dryness, and itchiness. Be kind to your eyes by updating your eye makeup regularly!

We hope these healthy habits will help you safeguard your vision and independence and enhance your beautiful view of life for as long as possible!

Dr Robert Gerowitz, Optometrist PC, your local Palatine eye doctor for eye exams and eye care

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Can You Undergo Cataract Surgery and LASIK Surgery?

Happy Middle Aged CoupleHave you had LASIK surgery as a young adult and are now wondering whether it may compromise your eligibility for cataract surgery later in life? You can put your mind to rest; it is indeed possible for someone to undergo both LASIK and cataract surgery — though only in that order. Someone who’s had LASIK can have cataract surgery later in life, but someone who’s had cataract surgery, in most cases, is no longer a candidate for LASIK or other refractive surgeries.

If you have any questions about your eligibility for either surgery or regarding any other ocular health matter, call for all of your eye care needs.

Understanding LASIK Surgery and Cataract Surgery

To better understand why cataract surgery is possible following LASIK surgery, it’s important to know the basics of both procedures.

LASIK surgery and other refractive surgeries are performed on the cornea — the dome-shaped, clear tissue at the front of the eye. During LASIK surgery, a laser reshapes the cornea so it refracts, or bends, light waves more precisely onto your retina (the light-sensitive tissue lining the back inner portion of the eyeball), resulting in clearer vision.

Cataract surgery, however, is performed on the eye’s natural lens — which is positioned just behind the iris (the colored part of the eye). The lens is responsible for focusing the light that passes through the eye onto the retina to produce a clear, crisp image. A healthy lens should be transparent and clear. Those with cataracts experience a clouding of the lens which disturbs normal vision. During cataract surgery, the cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with a synthetic lens, improving the clarity of your vision.

Cataract Surgery Without Having Had LASIK

The artificial replacement lens is designed to correct vision and replace prescription glasses. For those who have not had refractive surgery, vision correction through cataract surgery is usually uncomplicated and has a predictable outcome. After cataract surgery, many patients experience clear distance vision without the need for spectacles, although many will still need their reading glasses.

Cataract Surgery Following LASIK Surgery

The modern equipment used by takes very accurate measurements of the eyes, even many years after having undergone LASIK surgery. However, it is still highly recommended for those who have had LASIK surgery to provide the surgeon with all previous eye health records so that the appropriate lens implant be used for cataract surgery. If you do not already have them, you can request these records from the doctor who performed your LASIK surgery. If obtaining these records is not possible, cataract surgery can still be an option, though the postoperative refractive error may not be as predictable.

Contact Us For All Your Eye Health Concerns

Whether you’ve had LASIK or not, you still may have questions about your vision and ocular health. At , we’re here for you. Speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members about all of your vision and eye-related concerns.

Dr. Robert Gerowitz serves patients from Palatine, Buffalo Grove, Lake Zurich, Arlington Heights, and throughout Illinois.

Tips to Avoid a Concussion or TBI

close up eye lips 640

The complexity of the brain is truly fascinating; any slight change in its chemistry or structural integrity can result in a multitude of health problems, such as visual disturbances or permanent vision loss. This can affect everyday activities such as driving, walking, reading, using a computer, and staying focused. Below we’ll discuss what traumatic brain injury is and how to avoid one.

What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, is an injury to the brain caused by physical trauma, typically a sudden blow or bump to the head.

Concussions — a mild form of brain injury — are very common and makeup 75% of all TBI incidents. A concussion involves a short loss of normal brain function, as the hit can cause the brain to bounce around in rapid motion within the skull, occasionally causing chemical changes or damaging brain cells.

Moderate to severe TBIs cause the victim to lose consciousness from a few minutes to several hours. This can impact cognitive capacity along with other visual symptoms, such as:

  • Difficulty reading and writing
  • Partial or total loss of vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Double vision
  • Weakened eye muscles

There are numerous ways a TBI can occur, most of which are activities most of us do on a daily basis.

What Causes Traumatic Brain Injury?

Head injuries that cause TBI can happen during everyday activities such as running, hiking, swimming, or competitive sports.

The most common causes of TBIs are:

  • Sports injuries
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Falls
  • Being struck by an object

TBIs are more common than one would expect, affecting 10 million individuals around the globe annually. Below we’ll discuss what steps to take in order to prevent a TBI.

Tips for Avoiding Concussion and TBI

ski kidsOne of the best ways to protect against a concussion or TBI is to avoid any risky behavior. While this isn’t always possible, there are some steps you can take to protect your brain and eyes from trauma and damage.

Here are our top four tips:

1) Wear Protective Sports Gear

There are 3.8 million TBIs occurring each year in the US, and 20% are from sports. Wearing protective helmets and eyewear when playing basketball, baseball, or football can help prevent serious injuries, especially in children.

Speak with Dr. Robert Gerowitz about shatter-resistant polycarbonate or Trivex lenses, known for their impact-resistant materials.

2) Wear Sunglasses

Sun glare can cause momentary blindness. It’s that quick second of feeling blinded by the sun while you’re outside, driving in a car, or at the beach that can make you vulnerable to injury. An easy way to guard against this is by wearing sunglasses.

Sunglasses with polarized lenses prevent glare from entering your eyes by blocking strong light that reflects off surfaces such as glass, water, snow, sand, or pavement. Make sure that the sunglasses you choose contain 100% UV-blocking protection. Photochromic lenses are a smart option for those with prescription eyeglasses, as they darken when outside and revert back to clear lenses when indoors.

3) Pay Attention To Your Surroundings

As obvious as this may sound, people often forget to pay close attention to their surrounding environment. We all know that talking on the phone or texting while driving is dangerous, but being unaware of what’s happening around you can pose certain risks as well. Try to reduce your distractions when walking, driving, or performing any extraneous labor. When outdoors, be on the lookout for sharp objects or debris that can pose a risk.

4) Don’t Forget to Wear Your Seatbelt

Parents and doctors have been drumming it into our heads for years, and for good reason! The #1 way to prevent or reduce car accident injuries is by wearing a seatbelt. According to The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2.6 million American drivers and passengers were treated in hospital emergency rooms for car accident-related injuries in 2016. Transport Canada estimates that 25% of car accidents where victims were not wearing seat belts resulted in serious injuries, while 55% were fatal. In fact, car accidents are the number one cause of TBI-related deaths in America, especially among adults aged 20-24.

How a TBI Affects Vision

A TBI can negatively impact your vision, leading to sensitivity to light, blurry or double vision, or persistent eyestrain. In many cases, certain types of activities that were easier before the TBI suddenly become difficult. These include reading a book, driving a car, or watching TV.

Studies show that about 90% of TBI patients suffer from such visual dysfunctions, making it all the more critical to take precautionary measures in staying safe.

If you or a loved one displays any of these symptoms following a TBI, contact Dr Robert Gerowitz, Optometrist PC right away. Dr. Robert Gerowitz can offer a neuro-optometric rehabilitation program to help regain any visual skills that were lost. Feel free to call us with any questions you may have – we’re here for you.

REFERENCES

https://www.traumaticbraininjury.com/severe-tbi-symptoms/

https://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/concussion-tbi.htm

https://noravisionrehab.org/patients-caregivers/facts-and-figures

https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/seatbelts/facts.html

https://www.tc.gc.ca/en/services/road/publications/canadian-motor-vehicle-traffic-collision-statistics-2016.html

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844-941-3937

3 Reasons Why You Should Kickstart the New Year With Vision Therapy

holidays mug blog imageIt’s that time of year again when we sit down with a pumpkin spice latte in hand and think of a resolution we can take upon ourselves for the new year. Here at Dr Robert Gerowitz, Optometrist PC, we believe that the best resolutions are the ones that positively impact other areas of our lives and enhance our overall quality of life. Vision therapy offers just that! This therapy is made up of a series of customized visual exercises designed to develop or regain visual processing skills.

Vision Therapy is highly effective in treating:

  • Amblyopia, (or “lazy eye”)
  • Strabismus, (or “eye-turn”)
  • Eye movement disorders
  • Focusing disorders
  • Binocular vision problems
  • Vision, balance, and memory problems associated with brain injury

Even those with 20/20 eyesight can benefit from vision therapy because perfect eyesight doesn’t mean perfect vision. Below are the ways in which vision therapy will help you kick-off the new year.

Improve Existing Vision Skills

You’re good at what you do, be it at work, school or sports. But can you do better? By training the eyes and brain to work in unison, you increase your potential for greater performance. Not only will you be more efficient, but performing tasks will become more enjoyable. This especially applies to school-aged children, as their brains are still in rapid development. Vision therapy effectively enables the brain to correctly process information for optimal academic success.

Learn New Skills With Ease

Many people make it their resolution to learn a new skill in the upcoming year but an underlying vision problem can interfere with that. Since learning is 80% visual, vision therapy offers an excellent opportunity to gear up for success! Undiagnosed or untreated vision problems related to convergence and focus can cause memory and reading problems and hinder learning. Dr. Robert Gerowitz will use an array of tools, such as prisms, specialized lenses, filters, balance beams, and computerized visual activities to train the eye-brain connection and help you learn more efficiently in almost any area that requires vision.

Gain The Confidence You Crave

Whether you’re a pro-athlete or a 4th grader struggling to read, improved vision skills will boost your confidence. This confidence will surely trickle into other areas of your life leading to increased self-esteem.

Start 2020 by empowering yourself or your child with vision therapy. Call Dr Robert Gerowitz, Optometrist PC to book your appointment today.

Dr Robert Gerowitz, Optometrist PC serves patients in Palatine, Buffalo Grove, Lake Zurich, and Arlington Heights, and throughout Illinois.

https://reviews.solutionreach.com/vs/robert_gerowitz/appt
844-941-3937

Does your Child have Outdoor Deficit Disorder?

Is ODD a real thing? No, there’s not a diagnostic code like this in vision or medical care. But, there should be!

Take a look around. Are kids talking to one another or are they staring at their smart phones? It’s a beautiful day out; are your kids outside playing or inside playing on their tablets? And parents, do your children see you staring at your technology and wonder why they can’t do the same?

Let’s face it; we are raising a generation of children whose world is a glowing piece of tech held 8 inches from their faces. These kids no longer have conversations; just tweets, texts, and snap chats. So yes, these are kids with

Outdoor Deficit Disorder!

Not only can this affect their interpersonal relationships but it is a leading cause of progressive myopia (distance vision changes in children in time frames of less than one year and in units greater than 0.50 diopter or degree).What can you do about it?

  • Restrict their non-school tech time and give them non-tech activities to do
  • Make sure they go outside and play (at any activity) 7-10 hours per week, year round
  • Do not allow babies or toddlers to use your technology
  • Make sure they are holding their tech at least the length of their forearm from their eyes
  • Make sure their hair doesn’t come down on the side of their face where it can obscure light from the side when they are working up close
  • Bring your child in for a no-charge Orthokeratology / Myopia Management consult if you suspect they have progressive myopia

Yes, you could say Outdoor Deficit Disorder is a real thing and it causes vision and interpersonal problems in those most susceptible, our children. The time to act is now!

Is My Child Too Young for Vision Therapy?

Preschool Children Vision TherapyThe first years of a child’s life are crucial in ensuring the healthy and normal development of various body parts, especially the visual system. As a child’s body grows, so do the eyes. This can cause changes in vision. Keeping a close eye on, well, your child’s eyes, can help ensure that they are developing in a healthy way.

It’s important for parents and teachers to be on the lookout for problems with visual processing, as they can interfere with a child’s academics, social life, and extracurricular endeavors. This is especially evident during the school years when reading, writing, homework, and after-school activities become a part of their normal daily routine.

Even if a child has no refractive errors (such as nearsightedness or farsightedness) and has 20/20 vision, he or she may still have difficulties with visual processing or focus. These types of visual complications are often more difficult to detect, but may still impact various aspects of a child’s development.

When a child’s visual difficulties hinder their learning or social interactions, it may be time to try vision therapy.

What is Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy is a personalized regimen of exercises that can improve and strengthen visual functions. Each patient has unique needs and different degrees of visual health, which is why Dr. Robert Gerowitz and the team at Dr Robert Gerowitz, Optometrist PC create a customized vision therapy program to get the best results for your child.

Vision therapy is compared to physical therapy, only for the eyes instead of the entire body. The techniques and exercises can teach the eyes to improve specific areas of vision, such as focus, eye teaming, hand-eye coordination, and visual tracking, among other skills. The doctor may include prisms or special eyeglasses to boost the therapy program.

Most children’s vision therapy takes place in our office and usually once a week. You’ll be instructed to continue some of the exercises at home for 15-20 minutes daily, which will support the in-office treatment.

At What Age Can Children Begin Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy is offered to children as young as 6 years of age. Kids can develop problems with visual perception and clarity that aren’t always detected with a standard vision exam or school screening. Of course, every child is different, and the best way to know if they’re ready for vision therapy is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Robert Gerowitz.

Does Vision Therapy Really Work?

Vision therapy has been proven to improve visual skills and functions in both children and adults. It is an approved treatment by recognized organizations in the medical community, such as the American Optometric Association and the Canadian Association of Optometrists.

Keep in mind that it can take several months to notice significant improvement. Consistency is key. Young children, especially in the toddler years, need a steady routine to achieve the best possible results.

It’s important to note that vision therapy does not fix your child’s learning abilities or correct any refractive errors. The goal is to improve their visual function so that their skills in reading, writing, schoolwork, and social activities are strengthened for a better quality of life.

Contact Dr. Robert Gerowitz and the knowledgeable staff at Dr Robert Gerowitz, Optometrist PC to schedule a consultation and see whether vision therapy is right for your child.

Dr. Robert Gerowitz serves patients in Palatine, Buffalo Grove, Lake Zurich, and Arlington Heights, and throughout Illinois.

https://reviews.solutionreach.com/vs/robert_gerowitz/appt
844-941-3937

 

Quality of Life

Ortho-k, also known as our Gentle shaping system, is incredibly successful in treating and slowing the progression of myopia. These lenses are especially effective at slowing progressive myopia in children around the world. This research-backed technology changes the lives of its patients––both children and adults.

A recent study, which was quoted in the October 2018 issue of Review of Optometry, surveyed 100 children who were being treated with overnight Orthokeratology. The children were asked 20 questions about their Quality of Life at the start of their treatment and after 3 months of wear. The questions gauged several aspects of their lives, such as their symptoms, entertainment, academics, and emotions. Their answers revealed significant differences after just a short duration of treatment.

“Very powerful and life-changing”––these are the words which the researchers used to describe the children’s experiences with Ortho-k. Children using Ortho-k tended to be much more active in sports, which prolonged their outdoor activity time. As an additional benefit, studies have shown that increased outdoor activity has a positive effect in slowing the progression of myopia.

The children in the study said that they were “more confident and willing to try new things [and] more confident about their academic performance!” This renewed confidence results from Ortho-k lenses’ elimination of the need to wear daytime glasses.

Dr. Rob Gerowitz is one of only 130 Ortho-k fellows in the world, and he is proud to specialize in this life-changing treatment. To see if the Gentle Shaping System can improve your child’s Quality of Life, contact Dr. Gerowitz’s office at (847) 705-7777 or gerowitzinfo@comcast.net to schedule a free consultation today!

8 Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes

Whether you live in a climate with cold winter weather or you are planning a ski trip up north, winter can be a challenge if you suffer from dry eyes. Dry, cool air, cold winds and even drier indoor heating can cause eye irritation, burning, itchiness and redness, and sometimes even excessively watery eyes as more tears are produced to compensate for the dryness. Many people have a chronic feeling that they have something in their eye and some even experience blurred vision. These symptoms can be debilitating!

Dry eyes is one of the most common complaints eye doctors get from patients during the winter season, especially in the cooler climates. That’s why we’d like to share some tips on how to relieve dry eye discomfort, and how to know when your condition is serious enough to come in for an evaluation.

Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes:

  1. Keep eyes moist using artificial tears or eye drops. You can apply these a few times each day when the eyes are feeling dry or irritated. If over-the-counter drops don’t help or if you have chronic dry eyes, speak to your eye doctor about finding the best drops for you. Since not all artificial tears are the same, knowing the cause of your dry eye will help your eye doctor determine which brand is best suited for your eyes.
  2. Use a humidifier to counteract the drying effects of indoor heaters or generally dry air.
  3. Point car vents or indoor heaters away from your face when the heat is on. Try to keep your distance from direct sources of heating, especially if they blow out the heat.
  4. Drink a lot! Hydrating your body will also hydrate your eyes.
  5. Protect your eyes outdoors with sunglasses or goggles – the bigger the better! Larger, even wrap-around glasses as well as a hat with a wide brim will keep the wind and other elements out of your eyes. If you wear goggles for winter sports, make sure they fit well and cover a large surface area.
  6. Soothe dry eyes using a warm compress and never rub them! Rubbing your eyes will increase irritation and may lead to infection if the hands are not clean.
  7. Give your eyes a digital break. People blink less during screen time which is why extensive computer use can lead to dry eyes. Follow the 20/20/20 rule by taking a break every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds and make sure you blink!
  8. For contact lens wearers: If you wear contact lenses, dry eyes can be particularly debilitating as the contact lenses can cause even further dryness and irritation. Contact lens rewetting drops can help your eyes feel better and may also allow you to see more clearly. Not all eyedrops are appropriate for use with contact lenses, so ask your optometrist which eyedrop is compatible with your contacts and cleaning solution. If rewetting drops don’t help, consider opting for glasses when your dry eyes are bad, and speak to your optometrist about which brands of contact lenses are better for dry eyes. Many people find dry eye improvement when they switch to daily single use contact lenses.

Chronic Dry Eyes or Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition in which the eyes do not produce enough tear film, or do not produce the quality of tear film needed to properly keep the eyes moist. While winter weather can make this condition worse, it is often present all year round. If you find that the tips above do not alleviate your discomfort or symptoms, it may be time to see a optometrist to see if your condition requires more effective medical treatment.

GETTING OUTSIDE TO PLAY IS MISSION CRITICAL FOR KIDS!

Smart phones, tablets, and computers all make life more convenient and provide quick entertainment. However, kids who spend too much time using screens and don’t go outside and play are more likely to experience eye problems. These children are more likely to be nearsighted and to progress more quickly on to higher levels of myopia.

Getting outside can be a part of a number of activities, not just sports. Playing, taking a walk, doing yard work or shoveling snow, or walking the dog (or the neighbor’s dog) are all simple and fun ways to enjoy some exercise. Anything where the smart phone or tablet is left inside and the eyes are able to rest is a great option!

Getting outside can be challenging if the weather doesn’t cooperate. If it’s exces-sively snowy or rainy, you might want to gather the family for a game night or to participate in fun indoor activities. With proper gear, playing or walking in cold weather can be fun! It all starts with parents giving their kids some guidelines to follow, and monitoring their daily activities.

Now that it is getting darker earlier, by the time your child gets home, has a snack, and gets going on homework, it can be dark outside by the time they finish. How-ever, it is possible to restructure their day to ensure that they get that valuable play time!

Consider this: After school, once they have had a snack, send them out to play for an hour while it’s still light outside. Then, when they come back in, they can tackle that homework and maybe even have a little bit of screen time before dinner.

Our mission is to control and manage nearsightedness in children. Now, you know how you can help us with that mission. If you have any more questions, or if you think your child might be due for a checkup, schedule an appointment.! Call (847) 705-7777 today!

Diabetes and Your Eyes

Diabetes is becoming much more prevalent around the globe. According to the International Diabetes Federation, approximately 425 million adults were living with diabetes in the year 2017 and 352 million more people were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. By 2045 the number of people diagnosed is expected to rise to 629 million.

Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness as well as heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, neuropathy (nerve damage) and lower limb amputation. In fact, in 2017, diabetes was implicated in 4 million deaths worldwide. Nevertheless preventing these complications from diabetes is possible with proper treatment, medication and regular medical screenings as well as improving your diet, physical activity and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the hormone insulin is either underproduced or ineffective in its ability to regulate blood sugar. Uncontrolled diabetes leads to hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, which damages many systems in the body such as the blood vessels and the nervous system.

How Does Diabetes Affect The Eyes?

Diabetic eye disease is a group of conditions which are caused, or worsened, by diabetes; including: diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, glaucoma and cataracts. Diabetes increases the risk of cataracts by four times, and can increase dryness and reduce cornea sensation.

In diabetic retinopathy, over time, the tiny blood vessels within the eyes become damaged, causing leakage, poor oxygen circulation, then scarring of the sensitive tissue within the retina, which can result in further cell damage and scarring.

The longer you have diabetes, and the longer your blood sugar levels remain uncontrolled, the higher the chances of developing diabetic eye disease. Unlike many other vision-threatening conditions which are more prevalent in older individuals, diabetic eye disease is one of the main causes of vision loss in the younger, working-age population. Unfortunately, these eye conditions can lead to blindness if not caught early and treated. In fact, 2.6% of blindness worldwide is due to diabetes.

Diabetic Retinopathy

As mentioned above, diabetes can result in cumulative damage to the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy.

The retina is responsible for converting the light it receives into visual signals to the optic nerve in the brain. High blood sugar levels can cause the blood vessels in the retina to leak or hemorrhage, causing bleeding and distorting vision. In advanced stages, new blood vessels may begin to grow on the retinal surface causing scarring and further damaging cells in the retina. Diabetic retinopathy can eventually lead to blindness.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

The early stages of diabetic retinopathy often have no symptoms, which is why it’s vitally important to have frequent diabetic eye exams. As it progresses you may start to notice the following symptoms:

  • Blurred or fluctuating vision or vision loss
  • Floaters (dark spots or strings that appear to float in your visual field)
  • Blind spots
  • Color vision loss

There is no pain associated with diabetic retinopathy to signal any issues. If not controlled, as retinopathy continues it can cause retinal detachment and macular edema, two other serious conditions that threaten vision. Again, there are often NO signs or symptoms until more advanced stages.

A person with diabetes can do their part to control their blood sugar level. Following the physician’s medication plan, as well as diet and exercise recommendations can help slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy.

Retinal Detachment

Scar tissues caused by the breaking and forming of blood vessels in advanced retinopathy can lead to a retinal detachment in which the retina pulls away from the underlying tissue. This condition is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately as it can lead to permanent vision loss. Signs of a retinal detachment include a sudden onset of floaters or flashes in the vision.

Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)

Diabetic macular edema occurs when the macula, a part of the retina responsible for clear central vision, becomes full of fluid (edema). It is a complication of diabetic retinopathy that occurs in about half of patients, and causes vision loss.

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy and Diabetic Macular Edema

While vision loss from diabetic retinopathy and DME often can’t be restored, with early detection there are some preventative treatments available. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (when the blood vessels begin to grow abnormally) can be treated by laser surgery, injections or a procedure called vitrectomy in which the vitreous gel in the center of the eye is removed and replaced. This will treat bleeding caused by ruptured blood vessels. DME can be treated with injection therapy, laser surgery or corticosteroids.

Prevent Vision Loss from Diabetes

The best way to prevent vision loss from diabetic eye disease is early detection and treatment. Since there may be no symptoms in the early stages, regular diabetic eye exams are critical for early diagnosis. In fact diabetics are now sometimes monitored by their health insurance to see if they are getting regular eye exams and premium rates can be affected by how regularly the patients get their eyes checked. Keeping diabetes under control through exercise, diet, medication and regular screenings will help to reduce the chances of vision loss and blindness from diabetes.