As a diabetic, you probably already know that diabetes can lead to serious complications throughout your body. Nerve and foot problems are well known, but you may not know that diabetes can also affect your eyes. Here are five things you need to know about diabetic papillopathy.
What is diabetic papillopathy?
Diabetic papillopathy is a complication of diabetes. People with this condition have swelling of the optic disc, a part of the optic nerve. The optic nerve is responsible for transmitting images to your brain, and when it becomes swollen, its function can be impaired. This results in vision loss that ranges from mild and temporary to severe and permanent, depending on the degree of swelling.
How does diabetes cause it?
Researchers still aren't sure how diabetes causes diabetic papillopathy. There are a couple different theories, but more studies are needed to confirm them. It may be associated with a small cup-to-disc ratio, a measurement that optometrists use to track the progression of glaucoma, or with high pressure inside the eye. It may also be associated with a rapid drop in your blood sugar levels.
Can it damage your vision?
This condition usually has a favorable prognosis, but that isn't always the case. Some people do suffer from severe vision impairment or blindness as a result of this condition. This can happen in cases where there is severe swelling or where it is accompanied by other eye problems like hemorrhaging.
How is it treated?
Diabetic papillopathy will often go away by itself, but when it doesn't, it can stump optometrists. There isn't a standard treatment for diabetic papillopathy since optometrists still aren't sure what causes it. One study reported that injections of bevacizumab, a drug that is used to treat some cancers, can be an effective treatment. The study found that four weeks of these injections was enough to completely resolve the swelling inside the eye. Other small studies have reported similar results, but larger studies are needed to confirm their findings.
Is this a common complication of diabetes?
Diabetic papillopathy is fairly rare. Studies have estimated that it only occurs in about 0.5% of people with diabetes. Since it's so uncommon, optometrists have to diagnose it by first ruling out anything else that could cause similar symptoms.
If you have diabetes and notice changes in your vision, you need to see your optometrist or a ophthalmologist, like those at Nevada Institute Of Ophthalmology, right away. Vision changes could be a sign of diabetic papillopathy or another eye condition.