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Ophthalmology’s Greatest Hits: Treatment of Diabetic Eye Disease

This installment of ophthalmology’s greatest hits discusses the unprecedented developments in the treatment of diabetic eye disease over the last 40 years.

State-of-the-art Cataract Surgery
Treatment of Macular Degeneration
Treatment of Diabetic Eye Disease (Diabetic Retinopathy)
Advances in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Glaucoma
Treatment of Dry Eyes

Diabetes is the leading cause of adult blindness in the United States. Amazingly, 1 in 4 individuals over 65 are diabetic! About 30% of the 25 million diabetics in the U.S. have diabetic eye disease with 6-8% having severe sight-threatening disease. Diabetics can develop a myriad of other serious medical problems including heart attack, stroke and kidney failure.

The very good news is that the likelihood of serious sight-threatening complications from diabetes has decreased dramatically in the last generation.

As was noted in a recent medical article, "The marked reduction in…retinopathy [eye disease] and vision impairment over the past few decades…have resulted from the introduction of new devices for self-monitoring of blood-glucose levels and the administration of insulin, new medications (e.g., statins and hypoglycemic agents), surgical interventions (including vitrectomy), an increased awareness of the need for intensive control of glycemia [blood sugar] and blood pressure and the implementation of educational and screening programs."

In other words, control of blood sugar, blood pressure and lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) with medications, along with proper management of eye disease is sight saving and life-enhancing. Weight control, diet and exercise, as we all know, play a key role in achieving these goals.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that diabetics receive a dilated eye exam annually regardless of age, duration of disease and type of diabetes. Dilation is done with eyedrops and allows the eye doctor to clearly see the back of the eye, the part affected by diabetes.

June 10, 2016