The eye works like a camera. It has two parts, a lens and a film. The film layer lines the back wall of the eyes and is called the retina. It has arteries that provide it blood flow and veins which drain the blood. Diabetic changes are characterized by outpouching of normal blood vessels called microaneurysms.
Patients with mild diabetic retinopathy have only a few microaneurysms which are not causing any visual changes. Therefore, no treatment is required at this point.
What can patients do to decrease their risk of diabetic eye disease worsening and requiring treatment?
Here are the goals from the perspective of an ophthalmologist:
Maintain a hemoglobin A1C of 7 or less. This is an average blood sugar of 154.
Maintain a blood pressure of 140/90 or less
Your other healthcare professionals will be the one to manage blood sugars, blood pressure, and recommend additional goals.
Many people at this stage wonder why they need to come see their eye care specialist every 9-12 months for this condition.
The reason why is because the condition can progress from mild diabetic retinopathy to other types which require treatment. It is very uncommon for this condition to progress from a mild stage to a more advanced stage in 9-12 months. However, if your doctor does notice worsening at the next visit, they will shorten the distance between follow-up visits. This allows you and your doctor to stay on top of any changes and initiate treatment if needed. In general, early treatment of diabetic eye disease can reverse diabetic changes and restore vision completely.
Nearly all patients who continue to follow-up with their eye care specialists as recommended will continue to see well during their lifetime.
I hope you found this information helpful.
Please reach out to your eye care specialists if you have additional questions or concerns.