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March 2021 E-Blast for Treehouse Eyes practices

A new study just published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) confirms what we have been seeing in our practice. Kids spending more time indoors and virtually learning due to the pandemic are driving up myopia rates. We know that excess indoor time and near work, like computer or smartphone use, increases the risk of myopia in children and this study of over 100,000 children confirmed “the prevalence of myopia increased 1.4 to 3 times in 2020 compared with the previous 5 years.”

Myopia occurs when the eye grows too long and results in blurry distance vision. While glasses or contact lenses help a child see clearly, they don’t treat the disease of myopia so it usually gets worse until a child stops growing. This means not only stronger glasses, but also an increased risk of serious eye diseases in their lifetime due to higher myopia.

We recommend kids get outdoors at least 2 hours a day, which is proven to help reduce the onset of myopia and may help slow the progression in children that are already myopic. While this can be difficult, it is particularly important for children that have one or more parents who are also myopic.

There are now treatments that can slow down, or even stop, the progression of childhood myopia. Our office specializes in these treatments and has invested in specialized diagnostic equipment and clinical training to provide customized treatment options.

Book a myopia consultation for your child today at https://www.4patientcare.ws/v5dn/ws/wsv3p.aspx?CoverKey=3747&V4Scenario=1&Source=website&ReferredBy=website. We will do a comprehensive assessment to see if your child is a candidate for myopia treatment and recommend a customized treatment plan to help them.

Does Myopia Get Worse With Age?

Myopia Social Blog Image

Many parents who come into our practices consider their children’s myopia as a simple vision problem that needs correction. Each time the child needs a higher prescription, they just “fix” it by buying them a new pair of glasses.

What many parents don’t realize is that myopia can actually harm a child’s eyes and vision, especially as the child ages.

Below, we’ll explain what myopia is, how it progresses with age, and why parents should take action now to preserve their children’s gift of sight for the future.

What is Myopia?

Myopia is an eye disease where the eyeball grows too long, leading light to be focused in front of the retina instead of directly on it. This causes distant objects to appear blurry.

Because the eye elongates and grows with the rest of the body, naturally, it stops elongating once the rest of the body stops growing in early adulthood. This also means there may be times in a child’s development where they experience growth spurts—suddenly requiring a higher prescription.

Myopia typically starts in childhood and progresses throughout the school-age years, usually stabilizing around their late teens.

While scientists don’t fully understand all the causes of myopia, we know that genetics and certain environmental factors play a key role in its development and progression.

Why Should Parents Care About Myopia Progression?

Myopic children are at a higher risk of developing sight-threatening diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment, and macular degeneration later in life.

Children with rapidly progressing myopia are even more prone to developing these diseases.

So why wait for your child’s myopia to worsen before seeking treatment? Slowing myopia early on can make all the difference to your child’s eye health as they age.

In fact, a study published in the Journal of Optometry and Vision Science found a jarring statistic about myopia progression that all parents should be aware of. The researchers discovered that 1 diopter change in a child’s prescription was associated with a 67% increase in developing myopic maculopathy (myopic macular degeneration) — a leading cause of irreversible visual impairment and blindness.

The same study also noted that when parents provided their children with myopia management, the risks of developing myopic maculopathy fell by 40%.

Can Myopia Progression Be Slowed?

Yes! It certainly can be slowed, and even halted.

At Pacific Rims Optometry, we offer the latest and most effective treatments for childhood myopia so that every one of our patients receives the best shot at lifelong healthy vision.

Our optometric team will meet with you and your child to determine the most suitable treatment for your child’s eyes and lifestyle.

Why wait? It’s never too early to start treating myopia. To schedule your child’s myopia eye consultation, call us today!

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Has COVID-19 Impacted Your Child’s Eyes?

treehouse eyes child at an eye exam

Is your child squinting more than usual? Is she or he having difficulty reading or seeing distant objects, even if they already wear glasses or have recently had an eye exam?

Optometrists throughout the country are seeing more cases of myopia than ever before due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The drastic increase in indoor and screen time associated with virtual classrooms is taking a toll on children’s eyes, resulting in what optometrists are calling “quarantine myopia”.

How Has the COVID-19 Lockdown Contributed To Myopia?

COVID-19 has impacted the lives of many, whether through infection or as a result of the ripple effect of this pandemic, such as lockdowns. The periodic school shutdowns are causing children to spend significantly more hours a day inside and in front of their screens. It is, therefore, no coincidence that eye doctors have been detecting a steep rise in myopia cases during this period.

But First, What Is Myopia?

Myopia is a disease where the eye grows too long, causing light to be focused at the front of the retina instead of directly on it. This results in blurred vision when looking at a distant object. Myopia typically starts in childhood and progresses throughout school-age years, meaning a child’s vision continues to deteriorate as their eye grows too long.

While the causes of myopia are not yet fully understood, we now know that genetics and certain environmental factors play a significant role in its development. Doing excessive near work activities, like spending hours on a computer or other digital device, and staying indoors has been linked to the development or progression of myopia in children.

A recent study observed the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on over 120,000 Chinese children and found that home confinement had considerably increased myopia levels in those aged 6-8. These children had a diopter change of 0.3 during the lockdown. In other words, their vision significantly deteriorated during the lockdown.

When children have myopia, it’s not just an inconvenience. It can also put them at risk of developing serious, sight-threatening eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and retinal detachment later in life. That’s why so many parents choose myopia management to protect their children’s long-term vision and eye health.

Can Myopia Be Treated?

Yes, it most definitely can! At Pacific Rims Optometry, we’re committed to ensuring the best possible outcome for your child’s visual and ocular health. That means using the best, most effective treatments to slow or even halt your child’s myopia progression.

We work with you and your child to find the most suitable, convenient, and comfortable myopia treatment based on your child’s needs and lifestyle.

It’s never too early to start treating your child’s myopia. Offer your child the gift of sight for the long term by finding the nearest provider to you:

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Are Myopia Management Contact Lenses Safe for Children?

Mom Daughter Child Eye HealthWe meet dozens of parents and children every day who come in for eye exams, myopia treatments and other services. During these visits, we welcome and address questions or concerns that parents have about their child’s eye health.

Because certain myopia treatments include contact lens wear, many parents ask whether they’re safe to wear for young children. Here’s what the research says:

A recent study, Adverse Event Rates in The Retrospective Cohort Study of Safety of Paediatric Soft Contact Lens Wear: the ReCSS Study, shows that contact lenses for children are just as safe for children as they are for adults. (This study appears in the January 2021 issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics.)

The study followed 963 children aged 8 to 16 over the course of 1.5 to 3 years (for a combined 2713 years of contact lens wear time) to determine the risk level associated with wearing soft contact lenses. All of the subjects were 13 years of age or under at the time of their first fitting, with more than half of the children fitted with soft contacts at or before the age of 10, on average.

The study results indicate that age doesn’t play a role in contact lens safety. In fact, the risks of developing adverse reactions to contact lens wear among children proved to be the same as in adults. According to the study, the rate of inflammatory conditions associated with contact lens wear were less than 1% per year of wear.

Multifocal Lenses for Myopia Management

One effective method of myopia management includes the use of MiSight daily multifocal soft contact lenses. MiSight contact lenses are FDA approved for the treatment of myopia and have been shown to effectively slow down the rate of myopia progression.

Many parents like this method as it requires minimal maintenance; at bedtime, the child discards the pair they are wearing, and inserts a fresh pair in the morning. It also rids the child of the need to wear glasses during the day, allowing them to freely partake in sports and other activities.

The myopia management program at Pacific Rims Optometry can help preserve your child’s gift of sight for a lifetime. Treating your child’s myopia will give them clear vision today, while reducing their chances of developing sight-threatening eye diseases later in life.

it’s never too early to start treating myopia. Contact Pacific Rims Optometry in San Francisco today to schedule your child’s myopia consultation.

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5 Ways to Get Your Kids Outdoors This Winter and Save Their Vision

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Just because the weather is cooling down, it doesn’t mean that your kids should be kept indoors all winter long. In fact, there are many reasons to have them spend time outdoors, not least of which is to protect your child’s vision. Studies show that children who spend time playing outdoors in the sunshine experience less myopia progression than those who stay indoors. Moreover, encouraging more outdoor playtime is important for promoting overall health and wellbeing in your kids.

Below we’ll explore some fun outdoor activity ideas to try with your kids and discuss why spending time outdoors may slow a child’s myopia progression or even postpone its onset.

5 Outdoor Activities to Do With Your Kids This Winter

1. Snow Play

If you live in a snowy region, bundle up your kids in warm layers and have them:

  • Build a snowman
  • Enjoy a snowball fight
  • Paint the snow with some food coloring or watercolors
  • Make a snow maze
  • Build an igloo
  • Build snow castles (the same way you would sand castles)
  • Make snow angels
  • Collect snowflakes during a snow flurry and study their beautiful shapes

2. Blow Ice Bubbles

Kids love playing with and popping bubbles. If temperatures are low enough, they might freeze in mid air! They’ll get a kick out of watching them freeze and possibly catching or popping them.

To make your own bubble solution, mix 1 part water with 4 parts dish soap and a few drops of light corn syrup. It’s best to try this activity when winds are calm, as harsh breezes can cause the bubbles to pop before they freeze.

Once the bubbles have landed on a surface and are completely frozen, they are beautiful to photograph — which can be part 2 of this activity.

3. Go Sledding

Sledding is a classic winter activity that your child will love. To go sledding, all you need is snow, a sled, and a hill! Easy enough.

But before you hit the slopes (or hills), be sure to follow these safety guidelines:

  • Choose a sled that can be steered and can brake
  • Wear a helmet
  • Dress warmly, but be careful as the scarf can get caught under the sled
  • Children 5 years old and under should sled with an adult

4. Go on a Winter Scavenger Hunt

A winter scavenger hunt is a wonderful way to explore nature with all of your senses. Before you head out, make a list of things to see, smell, listen for, and feel. Ask your child to check each item off the list.

For example, your list can include listening for the sounds of birds chirping, footsteps crunching in the leaves, or water babbling in a nearby stream. On the list of things to look for, you can include different types of trees, animals, animal tracks, cloud shapes, birds’ nests, and more. Take your camera along and let your child take pictures of what they find.

You can also leave an empty space on the list for your child to fill as they explore new things on their own.

5. Decorate a Tree with Edible Ornaments For Animals

This activity is an unconventional twist on building a bird-feeder and perfect for those who live near a forest. The idea is to make edible ornaments and hang them on a tree (or potted plant in your garden) for wildlife to feed on during the winter.

Your ornaments can be made using various seeds, peanut butter, dried fruit, and popcorn. It’s best to use biodegradable materials to hang your ornaments, and don’t use fishing lines, as birds can get caught in it.

What’s the Connection Between Time Outdoors and Myopia?

There is increasing evidence that children who spend extra time daily playing outdoors have a reduced risk of developing myopia; and if they already have myopia, time spent outdoors could slow down the worsening of this condition, also known as myopia progression.

These findings are significant, as having myopia significantly increases a child’s risk of developing sight-threatening eye diseases later in life. Moderate to high levels of myopia make a child more susceptible to developing cataracts, retinal detachment, macular degeneration, and glaucoma later in life.

At Pacific Rims Optometry, our mission is to battle childhood myopia by providing myopia management to nearsighted children. Our myopia management treatments can effectively slow down your child’s myopia progression and reduce their future risk of eye disease.

If your child has myopia, or if you need your first consultation, contact us today to schedule a myopia eye exam.

Wishing you and all of our patients a healthy and enjoyable winter season!

Recent media coverage about childhood myopia

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Myopia in children is a growing concern, especially with so many kids learning virtually during the pandemic. Myopia is a disease where the eye grows too long, with the symptom being blurry distance vision. Studies show that myopia rates in children are increasing as kids spend less time outdoors and more time involved in near work like digital device use.

What many parents don’t know is that rapidly progressing myopia is more than just a hassle — it can harm your child’s eye health. Children with progressive myopia are far more likely to develop potentially sight-threatening eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration later in life.

We were delighted to have Dr. Chan interviewed recently by Bay Area Moms to provide her expert advice to parents on dealing with myopia. She recommended kids get outside at least 2-3 hours a day and take frequent breaks from screen use to help their vision. She also discussed new myopia treatments, including customized contact lenses and prescription eye drops, that we can use to treat myopia. Our practice specializes in providing these treatments and offers myopia consultations to customize a treatment plan for each child.

What Causes Myopia to Progress?

Genetics play a large role in myopia development. Two nearsighted parents are more likely to have a myopic child than a couple with only one myopic parent, or no myopic parents at all.

No one knows exactly why myopia progresses, but spending most of the day indoors, focusing on near objects like screens and books, may be risk factors. More research is needed to determine whether the fact that children are spending less time looking at faraway objects like a moving baseball or a basketball net might be contributing to the increase in myopia cases around the world.

How Can I Prevent Myopia From Worsening?

One of the best pieces of advice for parents of nearsighted children is to increase their child’s outdoor playtime in the sun. In research studies, the progression of myopia was slower in children who spent a considerable amount of time in the sunshine than in children who did not.

The World Health Organization advises that children under 5 spend 1 hour or less per day in front of a screen, and no screen time is recommended for infants under 1. The Children’s Eye Foundation recommends outdoor play daily, and no screen time for children under 2. They also recommend no more than 1-2 hours per day for 2- to 5-year-olds, with frequent breaks.

How Can a Myopia Management Eye Doctor Help?

Myopia management eye doctors do more than prescribe corrective lenses. Although no actual cure for myopia exists, there are methods that can help control its progression. Like most treatments, myopia treatment in children is most effective when started early before a child is highly myopic. Our office partners with Treehouse Eyes, the country’s leading provider of myopia treatments for children. This Wall Street Journal article featured Treehouse Eyes in a recent article discussing the growing issue of childhood myopia.

Call us at 833-453-0313 or schedule an appointment online for your child today for a myopia consultation. We will assess your child’s vision and eye health, and recommend a treatment plan that will be right for your family.

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 [tokensname=’SpCenterVT’], 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. Selena Chan 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 The Vision Therapy Center at Pacific Rims Optometry to book your appointment today.

The Vision Therapy Center at Pacific Rims Optometry serves patients in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Mateo, and throughout California.

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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. Selena Chan and the team at The Vision Therapy Center at Pacific Rims Optometry 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. Selena Chan.

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. Selena Chan and the knowledgeable staff at The Vision Therapy Center at Pacific Rims Optometry to schedule a consultation and see whether vision therapy is right for your child.

Dr. Selena Chan serves patients in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Mateo, and throughout California.

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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.

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.