Having a serious eye disease can be unsettling. If your eyes have recently worsened, you may need to consider surgery. Diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic eye disease can pose a danger to your eyesight if left untreated. Your first step should always be scheduling an eye examination. During your exam, ask your ophthalmologist what they recommend for your eye care. Not every case of eye disease ends in eye surgery; it should be a last resort.
Diabetic Eye Disease Surgery
If you have diabetes and chronic high blood sugar, you may suffer from diabetic retinopathy. With this disease, the blood vessels in your retina become damaged as a result of high blood sugar. These blood vessels can swell, leak, or even close, causing vision issues. In mild cases, you will experience blurred vision. However, diabetic eye disease can worsen and lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated. Diabetic retinopathy progresses through four stages of severity, ending with proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR).
PDR is the most advanced stage of diabetic eye disease where the retina starts growing new blood vessels. Once you develop PDR, you must seek surgery or risk losing your central and peripheral vision.
Laser surgery is often done for PDR, but severe cases are treated with a vitrectomy. During this procedure, your ophthalmologist will surgically remove the eye’s vitreous gel, allowing light rays to focus properly on the retina again. A vitrectomy is performed under local or general anesthesia and can be done as an inpatient or outpatient procedure.
Your eye’s lens is made up of water and protein. A cataract occurs when the lens inside your eye becomes cloudy due to this protein clumping together. At first, you may not even notice these vision changes because the effects aren’t very apparent. Treatment at this stage involves protecting your eyes with sunglasses and UV protectant lenses. This type of protection can lengthen the amount of time before you may need surgery.
Many patients find that their eyesight problems worsen within months or years of their diagnosis. If the vision impairment you experience due to cataracts affects your daily life, then you may want to consider cataract surgery. Untreated cataracts can create a fog in your vision and eventually block light from entering your eye, resulting in a sort of brown filter over your eyesight.
Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgical procedure in the country. During this procedure, your ophthalmologist will cut a small slit into the surface of your eye. The cataract and old lens are then removed and replaced with an artificial lens called an intraocular lens. These lenses can even correct poor vision and reduce the need for glasses. Cataract surgery is performed under local anesthesia in the form of eye drops that numb and immobilize the eye.
You are able to see because your optic nerve carries images from your retina to your brain. Glaucoma is an eye disease that damages the fibers in that optic nerve. A buildup of fluid in the eye creates an increased eye pressure that slowly degrades the optic nerve, and in severe cases, causes blindness.
Getting regular dilated eye exams is crucial to catching glaucoma early on. Diagnosing glaucoma as fast as possible is important because the early effects are so gradual. You may not notice that there's an issue with your eyesight until the glaucoma is at such an advanced stage that surgery is required. As glaucoma progresses, blind spots appear in the vision. Glaucoma surgery can help lower the pressure in your eye. However, the vision loss caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed.
Glaucoma surgery is always used as a last resort when medications and other treatments are unsuccessful. During this procedure, your ophthalmologist will either improve the draining function in the eye by using a laser to treat the eye’s drainage system, or create an incision to manually drain fluid from the eye. Both procedures relieve eye pressure but the latter is more invasive. Glaucoma surgery can be repeated.