Skip to main content
Home » Eye Care Services » Private: Diabetes and Your Eyes » What You Need To Know About Sight Threatening Diabetic Retinopathy

What You Need To Know About Sight Threatening Diabetic Retinopathy

Nick LabCoat Dec2010

Dr. Nicholas Belill, Medical Optometrist Specializing in Diabetes Eye Care and Patient Education:

  1. Offers more thorough diabetic eye exam and patient education experience than 99% of ophthalmologists
  2. Utilizes the most advanced retinal imaging technology (Optomap and OCT) for early detection of diabetic eye disease and glaucoma
  3. Ocular nutritional testing provides important information about macular pigment levels (Lutein and Zeaxanthin) and possible need for supplementation
  4. Previously worked with European scientists to develop a risk calculator website (RetinaRisk) to show diabetic patients their future risk of blindness and how modification of blood pressure and blood sugar levels can lower risk of sight-threatening disease
  5. Provides each diabetic patient with a handout that summarizes latest strategies to protect sight from diabetes
  6. Sends Diabetic Eye Consult report to primary care physician to keep them informed of ocular results and visual risk
  7. Uses high quality cloud-based digital animations to teach patients about eye anatomy and how diabetic damage can lead to vision loss
  8. In addition to focusing on early detection of diabetic eye disease, also tests for routine focusing problems and prescribes eyeglasses within same clinic
  9. Learned about diabetic eye disease from two of the best experts in the United States : Dr. Paul Chous and Dr. Larry Alexander

What you should know about sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy (STR)

  • STR refers to the most advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy (internal eye disease). Without timely treatment, these conditions commonly lead to significant and permanent vision loss.
  • STR is the most frequent cause of blindness in adults aged 20–74 years (15% of blindness in U.S.)
  • 90% of sight loss from STR can be avoided with Prevention, Early Detection, and Treatment.
  • STR can happen to anyone with diabetes, even those who do not take insulin.
  • STR has the following risk factors: duration of diabetes, severity of high blood sugar levels, kidney disease, high blood pressure, male gender, smoking, obstructive sleep apnea, high cholesterol and triglycerides, unhealthy body weight, non-Caucasian ethnicity, previous diagnosis of diabetic vascular complications, family history of diabetic retinopathy, large fluctuations in blood sugar levels, and nutritional deficiencies (vitamin D or B12, zeaxanthin, lutein).
  • PREVENTION STRATEGIES: effectively self-managing individualized ABC goals (for example A=A1c <7.0%, B=blood pressure <140/90, C = cholesterol), optimizing blood glucose control soon after diagnosis, smoking cessation, sleeping 7-8 hours a night, treating any obstructive sleep apnea, consuming low glycemic index/plant-based/Mediterranean Style or intermittent fasting diets, using a pedometerand walking 8-10 thousand steps per day, wearing lenses that block UV and Blue light (especially while looking at digital screens in the evening), and taking the Eyepromise DVS nutritional supplement(shown to significantly improve visual function in a recent clinical trial of patients with diabetes without affecting blood glucose control).
  • EARLY DETECTION guidelines: “those 18 – 75 years of age with diabetes (Type 1 or Type 2) have dilated retinal exam with an eye care professional (ophthalmologist or optometrist) yearly.”
  • STR usually causes no visual symptoms at its earliest, most treatable stages. STR can sometimes be invisible to standard eye exam techniques. The routine utilization of ultra-widefield retinal imaging (Optomap) and optical coherence tomography (OCT) improves early detection rate.
  • STR is only one of several distinct types of diabetic eye disease (glaucoma, cataracts, optic nerve stroke, retinal vascular blockages, dry eye syndrome, corneal damage, cranial nerve palsy). Clinic-basedretinal photography screenings alone are NEVER a substitute for comprehensive eye exams.
  • TREATMENT of STR may require aggressive techniques by a retinal specialist (destructive laser applied to the retina or a series of injections into the eyeball) to prevent permanent vision loss. These therapies are not pleasant, or inexpensive, and they do not always result in good outcomes.
  • Most people fear the loss of vision more than that of any other sense, yet an estimated 40% of patients with diabetes do not get preventative eye exams at recommended intervals. Everyone with diabetes (type 1 or type 2) must be educated that they should have an initial dilated comprehensive eye examination by a knowledgeable, experienced, and compassionate eye doctor shortly after they are diagnosed (since 3% will already have STR), and then annually or sooner as directed.
  • Visit this link for animated educational content