During National Diabetes Month, Dr. Steven Nielsen of The Nielsen Eye Center spreads awareness about diabetic retinopathy – a leading cause of blindness among adults in America.
Boston, MA – Among the more than 29 million people in the United States who suffer from diabetes, it is estimated that approximately 28 percent of adults aged 40 and over have diabetes-related eye disease. One of the most common, diabetic retinopathy, is the leading cause of blindness in working-age individuals in America. In support of National Diabetes Month this past November, Dr. Steven Nielsen, an eye doctor in Boston and the Quincy area, spread the word about the seriousness of diabetic retinopathy and what can be done to prevent and treat its debilitating effects.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when irregular blood sugar levels affect blood vessels in the retina, leading to blood and fluid leakage as well as swelling inside the eye. In later stages of the disease, new blood vessels can form on the surface of the retina. When those vessels break, blood can leak into the central part of the eye and cause significant vision loss – even blindness. Dr. Nielsen says diabetic retinopathy typically does not begin to develop until the individual has lived with diabetes for at least 10 years; however, annual dilated eye exams are critical after the onset of diabetes in order to catch signs of the condition before it has done irreparable harm to one’s vision. Dr. Nielsen says diabetic retinopathy is extraordinarily common among individuals with both type-1 and type-2 diabetes, particularly those who have been diabetic for a long period of time.
With that in mind, Dr. Nielsen notes that there are advanced treatment options for patients who have been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, including laser procedures that can address leaking blood vessels and procedures that can slow the growth of new blood vessels. He says these treatments can often significantly reduce the progress of diabetic retinopathy and the risk that symptoms will get devastatingly worse. Dr. Nielsen notes that prevention measures such as dilated eye exams at least once a year, diligent control and monitoring of blood sugar levels, avoiding smoking, maintaining a normal body weight for one’s size, and getting regular exercise are very important for individuals who are susceptible to diabetic retinopathy.
Symptoms such as blurry vision, floaters (tiny spots or “flecks” that can move across the field of vision), and missing spots are some of the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy. Dr. Nielsen notes that, even if they are not experiencing symptoms, diabetic individuals should always have an annual exam to identify early signs since the earliest diagnosis and treatment offers the best chance to prevent permanent damage to one’s vision. He says, while there is no cure for diabetic retinopathy, advances in the field of ophthalmology over the years have yielded very effective treatments that can dramatically slow its progression and give patients the chance of saving their vision.
About Steven A. Nielsen, MD
A board-certified ophthalmologist, Dr. Steven A Nielsen is the president of the Nielsen Eye Center in the Boston and Quincy, Massachusetts area. He is a member of the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Massachusetts Medical Society, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons, and other organizations. Since 1991, the Nielsen Eye Center has been offering a comprehensive array of eye and vision care services in locations throughout Massachusetts. Its team of ophthalmologists, eye specialists, and cataract surgeons perform a range of procedures designed to treat common eye conditions and improve vision. Options at the practice include LASIK laser vision correction, laser cataract surgery, and treatment for dry eye syndrome, glaucoma, and many other concerns. Dr. Nielsen is available for interview upon request.