Tom S. Chang, MD Reveals Myths and Facts About Diabetic Eye Disease

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Tom S. Chang, MD explains how diabetic eye disease presents as a complication of diabetes that damages the eyes. For a diabetic person, the threat of vision loss resulting from diabetic eye disease should be a serious concern. You don't have to wait until it is too late to educate yourself on the possible risks.

Below are some myths and facts about diabetic eye disease Tom S. Chang, MD believes are useful. This clarification of information can go a long way in helping diabetic patients better understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment of diabetic eye disease.

Myth: Diabetic retinopathy is the only vision-related risk associated with diabetes.

According to research carried out by American Diabetes Association, diabetic retinopathy is the most prevalent cause of new cases of blindness among individuals aged between 20 to 74. While this is true, Tom S. Chang, MD explains that there is also a high chance of developing other eye diseases. Some of these diseases include glaucoma, diabetic macular edema, and cataracts.

A diabetic is 40% more likely to develop glaucoma. Risk is significantly affected by the age and the amount of time the individual has had diabetes. Similarly, those with diabetes are 60% more likely to develop cataracts than those without diabetes. 

Fact: Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are in danger of developing diabetic eye disease.

Every person with diabetes is at risk of developing diabetic eye disease. Tom S. Chang, MD adds that other factors may further increase your chances of developing such complications. For example, individuals with untreated high blood pressure have a greater risk.

For those who have diabetes and become pregnant, eye problems can develop rapidly during pregnancy. The changes that enable your body to support the baby may stress the blood vessels in your eyes. Tom Chang's expert advice is that you regularly undertake an eye exam during pregnancy to catch and treat eye problems early and safeguard your vision.

Myth: With appropriate treatment, diabetic eye disease is reversible.

The primary treatment of retinopathy, as mentioned by Tom S. Chang, MD, is managing your blood sugar. Apart from that, certain treatments can slow or stop your loss of vision. The two most popular treatments are intravitreal injections and laser surgery.

Even with these processes, to date, there is no procedure to reverse diabetic retinopathy. However, it doesn't have to lead to a total loss of vision. Early detection and prompt treatment can greatly reduce the chances of vision loss from diabetic eye disease. If such preventive treatment measures are not promptly executed, diabetic eye disease may result in permanent vision loss.

Staying healthy and following a specialist's instructions cannot be overemphasized; it is the best way to prevent these conditions from developing.

Fact: Smoking increases the risk of diabetic eye disease.

cigarette smoking

Smoking is often associated with lung cancer and heart disease. However, many people don't realize that smoking may lead to vision loss. Research has shown that smoking increases the risk of age-related retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma. It also worsens complications of diabetes like nerve damage, heart disease, among others.

Tom S. Chang, MD encourages individuals to stop smoking and engage in daily physical exercise. In addition to these steps, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood sugar and cholesterol all go a long way to reducing eye disease risk.

Myth: People who properly manage their diabetes and blood glucose levels are not at high risk for diabetic eye disease.

Properly managing your diabetes and blood glucose is a step in the right direction. However, studies show that even though good control of blood glucose levels in people with diabetes can slow the onset and progression of diabetic retinopathy, there is still a great chance of developing diabetic eye disease.

Tom S. Chang, MD attributes this higher risk to other factors that influence diabetic retinopathy. Some of these include blood pressure levels, genetics, and how long the person has had diabetes. In the case of glaucoma and cataracts, the individual's age and length of the disease can be factors for eye disease.

Fact: An annual dilated eye exam can help prevent vision loss through diabetic eye disease.

In a dilated pupil eye exam, the pupil is intentionally dilated during the eye exam to allow the doctor to observe the optic nerve and retina fully. The exam is beneficial in treating and preventing eye conditions that could lead to vision loss.

Specialists highly recommend that those with diabetes should get a dilated eye exam at least once every year. In the early stages, there are often no diabetic eye disease symptoms, and periodic eye exams are crucial for early detection and treatment. According to statistics by the National Eye Institute (NEI), getting your eye examined annually can reduce the risk of blindness from diabetic eye disease by approximately 95%. For this reason, Tom S. Chang, MD's expert advice is for everyone with diabetes to get an eye exam every year.

Tom Chang MD Eye Exam

Myth: Paying attention to early warning signs can always prevent diabetic eye disease.

Most times, there aren't a lot of early warning signs of diabetic eye disease, and loss of vision only begins to show when the disease is already at an advanced stage and is irreversible. Only an ophthalmologist can detect the earliest symptoms, and this is why routine check-ups are essential.

Some possible warning signs of diabetic eye disease. They often surface before serious vision loss. Some of these include floating spots, blurred vision, color changes, and loss of side vision. 

If you notice any of these warning signs, contact a specialist and report it.

Fact: Diabetic retinopathy can cause total vision loss.

Diabetic retinopathy is caused by high blood glucose damaging the back of the eye (retina). When left untreated and undiagnosed, this complication can cause blindness. Although it may take several years for diabetic retinopathy to reach a stage where it could threaten your sight, prevention is crucial.

Tom S. Chang, MD advises those with diabetes to reduce their risk of developing diabetic retinopathy by maintaining a healthy weight, attending screening appointments, and controlling blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar.

In a nutshell, a person with diabetes needs to take good care of their eyes. Even if you do not have any vision loss symptoms, you must make appointments with a specialist to check up your eyes. You can also contact Tom S. Chang, MD for more information.