Early detection is important in the treatment of AMD. Consult your eye specialist or health care professional immediately if you experience blurriness, waves, or darkness in the center of your vision, or changes in color perception.
Diabetic Retinopathy – more than five million American adults suffer with this leading cause of vision loss, and it can occur whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can advance from mild vision loss to total blindness.
This condition is the result of blood vessels that become damaged in people with diabetes. This damage occurs as a result of high blood sugar levels. The early form of the disease, NPDR (nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy) is marked by the leaking of blood and fluid from damaged blood vessels. Some patients will also experience macular edema – swelling of the macula, the center portion of the retina.
Advanced diabetic retinopathy, or proliferative diabetic retinopathy, is the stage during which abnormal blood vessels start to form within the retina.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy do not usually develop until the condition is already in an advanced stage. This is why it is so vital for diabetics to have regular eye examinations.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy:
Dark spots or floaters in the field of vision
Impaired night vision
Trouble distinguishing colors
There are virtually no treatments for early retinopathy. In the advanced stages of the condition laser therapy or vitrectomy may offer some improvement.
The best cure in this case is prevention. Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, keeping cholesterol and blood pressure under control, quitting smoking, and getting regular exercise can all help prevent or minimize diabetic retinopathy. Other essentials include regular eye examinations and reporting any visual changes to your eye specialist.
Cataracts – this clouding of the lens of the eye will affect more than half of Americans in their lifetime. The condition occurs slowly, getting worse over time until vision is significantly impaired. There are varying types of cataracts, some age-related, some not.
Age-related cataracts are divided into three categories – nuclear, which form in the center of the lens, cortical, wedge-shaped cataracts which form at the edge of the nucleus, and posterior capsular which form at the rear of the lens.
There are also congenital cataracts which affect one in 10,000 babies, and are usually the result of infection or drug use during pregnancy. These can be removed if they cause vision impairment in the child. In addition, there are secondary cataracts, typically caused by diseases like diabetes or glaucoma, or medications like prednisone (a steroid).