The macula is the component of the eye which allows for central vision. When you have diabetes, you must take special care of your eyes because this disease can severely threaten your vision. One condition that arises from poorly managed diabetes is diabetic maculopathy (damage to the macula) which can be a result of retinopathy. This damage may manifest as diabetic macular edema (DME) which is caused by fluid build-up in the macula.
In this article, we will discuss diabetic maculopathy and other macular problems associated with diabetes. We will also present some ideas for preventing, dealing with and treating this condition. Read on to learn more.
How Does Diabetic Maculopathy Happen?
If you have diabetes, you may find yourself losing central vision. This can happen because the macula of your eye has become damaged due to a buildup of fluid which causes the blood vessels that are located near to macula to leak protein and/or fluid.
This leaking can cause hardening of the retina. It may also leave fatty deposits (exudates) from the blood. If these exudates are large and/or located near the fovea, a condition called Clinically Significant Macular Edema (CSME) can develop.
How Do You Know If You Have Diabetic Maculopathy?
It must always be mentioned that one of the best ways to know you are developing a potentially dangerous health condition is to see your health care professional on a regular basis. Regular eye exams will detect problems early on so that they can be treated promptly.
If, between doctor visits, you notice that your central vision seems a bit blurry, you may be experiencing the onset of this condition. This blurring may manifest as difficulty reading or trouble recognizing faces or objects in the center of your vision.
What Can Be Done?
1. Laser Photocoagulation: Sometimes, macular edema will resolve on its own, but it is still smart to see your ophthalmologist if you notice any difference in your vision. He or she may recommend laser photocoagulation treatment if you catch the condition early on.
2. Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor: Another effective treatment is anti-VEGF medication. Lucentis is the drug that is most often used in the United States. The treatment consists of injections of the drug directly into the vitreous humor. The eyeball is numbed with drops before treatment, so discomfort is minimal. The drug binds with the renegade proteins and prevents them from causing more leakage from the blood vessels.
3. Intravitreal Steroids: Another treatment consists of injecting steroids into the vitreous humor. As with most steroid treatments, this one seems to cause more problems than it solves. Complications include increased intraocular pressure and the development of cataracts. For these reasons, this is not a popular or frequent treatment choice.
4. Laser Surgery: This surgery involves aiming a laser beam directly at the leak in the blood vessel to seal it off and prevent the development of new leaks. This causes a little damage to the retina, but your eye will heal from this small injury. This type of treatment can be a bit painful and may take a few weeks for recovery. In that time, you may find that your vision is worsened; however, once you are fully recovered, your vision should be improved.
How Can You Avoid Diabetic Maculopathy?
Be especially vigilant about sudden changes in blood sugar levels. Even sudden improvement can trigger problems with retinopathy. Strive to keep your blood sugar levels on an even keel at all times.
Taking good care of your general health and your eyes will help you avoid this and many other vision problems. If you eat well, watch your blood sugar levels, keep your cholesterol levels under control practice good lifestyle habits overall you are far less likely to develop complications associated with diabetes.