Improving Quality of Life One Patient at a Time
Since 1985, Florida Eye Institute has been dedicated to improving and maintaining the vision of Vero Beach and Sebastian residents. Through the advancements in treatment, our team of highly trained surgeons provides leading solutions to many issues involving the retina.
The Macular Degeneration and Diabetes Center is a complete dedicated department within Florida Eye Institute that houses the latest diagnostic and therapeutic equipment for the exclusive treatment of retinal disease and low vision. State of the art therapies such as Lucentis, Avastin, Eylea, PDT, laser photocoagulation, and Triessence, coupled with cutting edge diagnostics such as the Heidelberg ICG angiography, B-Scan Ultrasonography, and OPTOS Ultra-Widefield Retinal Camera allows for the most advanced treatment, comfortably and conveniently, in one location.
About the Retina
The retina is the inner lining at the back of the eye responsible for our vision. It functions and works similar to the film in a camera. The vitreous body is a transparent gel-like substance that fills the eye behind the colored iris. These areas are affected by conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, flashes and floaters , injuries, as well as many other problems.
Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of permanent vision loss in people over the age of 65. It occurs when the small central portion of the retina, known as the macula, wears down. Since this disease happens as a person ages, it is often called age-related Macular Degeneration (ARMD). The macula is the area of the eye responsible for sharp, central vision and color. Macular Degeneration usually affects both eyes and can be either gradual or abrupt. Peripheral (side) vision is unaffected.
There are two basic types of Macular Degeneration: “dry” and “wet.” Approximately 85% to 90% of the cases of macular degeneration are the “dry” (atrophic) type, while 10-15% are the “wet” (exudative) type. Light often plays a role in the development of the “dry” type of macular degeneration, in which cell waste isn’t easily digested, builds up, and swelling occurs. It can be a forerunner of “wet” macular degeneration. The “wet” type may cause rapid, severe vision loss. It usually occurs when abnormal, new blood vessels grow for unknown reasons, leaking fluid and blood. The build-up of fluid causes the macula to bulge, distorting vision. Macular Degeneration is never caused by “over-using” the eyes.
How Does Diabetes Cause Vision Loss?
Blood vessels damaged from diabetes can cause vision loss in several ways:
- Retinopathy occurs when fragile, abnormal blood vessels grow and leak into the center of the eye, blurring vision. Proliferative retinopathy can develop without symptoms. At this advanced stage, you are at high risk for vision loss. People with proliferative retinopathy can reduce their risk of blindness by 95 percent with timely treatment and appropriate follow-up care.
- Macular edema occurs when fluid leaks into the center of the macula, the area where sharp, central vision occurs. The fluid causes the macula to swell, blurring vision. Macular edema can develop without symptoms at any stage of diabetic retinopathy.
Both proliferative retinopathy and macular edema can develop without noticeable changes to vison. However, there is a high risk for vision loss if the condition persists. A dilated retina exam can determine if you have evidence of macular edema or diabetic retinopathy. Whether or not you have symptoms, early detection and timely treatment is important to prevent vision loss.
Treating Diabetic Eye Disease
Although considered one disease, there are many types of diabetic retinopathy. The two main categories of diabetic retinopathy are:
- Nonproliferative: blood vessels leak and/or close
- Proliferative: new blood vessels grow or proliferate
The level of severity and the area of the retina involved determine the type of treatment for diabetic retinopathy. Injectable medications used in the treatment of Macular Degeneration like Lucentis, Eylea, Avastin, or Kenalog have proved effective in managing the swelling and fluid leakage associated with diabetic eye disease. Laser photocoagulation is also used to safely and reliably stabilize and improve vision. By focusing the laser onto diseased areas in the retina, swelling can be reduced, abnormal vessels destroyed, and weak vessels sealed.
Steps to Protect Your Vision
- Stop Smoking to prevent blood vessel damage.
- Eat a balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise to increase healthy blood flow.
- Maintain appointments with health professionals.
- Monitor blood sugar for fluctuation.
- Schedule a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year.
Anyone with diabetes is at risk for developing an eye disease. The longer someone has lived with diabetes, the more likely they will develop diabetic retinopathy. In fact, 40% of Americans diagnosed with diabetes already have some stage of diabetic retinopathy.
Retinal Tears and Detachments
Each year, 1 in 10,000 people in the United States will be affected by a retinal tear or detachment. If not treated early, retinal tears and detachments may lead to permanent impairment or loss of vision.
Most detachments are caused by the presence of one or more small tears in the retina (the thin, transparent tissue that covers the inside wall of the eye). Normal aging can sometimes cause the retina to thin and deteriorate. More frequently, shrinkage of the vitreous (the gel-like fluid that fills the center of the eye) is responsible.
A hard blow to the eye may also cause the retina to detach. In rare cases, the condition is hereditary and may occur in infants or children. Some retinal detachments are caused by other eye diseases such as tumors, severe inflammations, or complications from diabetes.
Once the retina has detached, it must be repaired surgically. There are various surgical procedures available, and an ophthalmic consultation is required to determine the most appropriate course of treatment. Dr. Baudo has repaired many retinal detachments over his many years at the Florida Eye Institute. If you are experiencing visual symptoms, contact us today to schedule your dilated eye exam to ensure your eyes are healthy.