Protecting Against Vision Loss

What are some questions to ask?

About my eye disease or disorder…

  • What is my diagnosis?
  • What caused my condition?
  • Can my condition be treated?
  • How will this condition affect my vision now and in the future?
  • Should I watch for any particular symptoms and notify you if they occur?
  • Should I make any lifestyle changes?

About my treatment…

  • What is the treatment for my condition?
  • When will the treatment start and how long will it last?
  • What are the benefits of this treatment and how successful is it?
  • What are the risks and side effects associated with this treatment?
  • Are there foods, drugs, or activities I should avoid while I’m on this treatment?
  • If my treatment includes taking medicine, what should I do if I miss a dose?
  • Are other treatments available?

About my tests…

  • What kinds of tests will I have?
  • What can I expect to find out from these tests?
  • When will I know the results?
  • Do I have to do anything special to prepare for any of the tests?
  • Do these tests have any side effects or risks?
  • Will I need more tests later?

Other suggestions

  • If you don’t understand your eye care professional’s responses, ask questions until you do understand.
  • Take notes or get a friend or family member to take notes for you, or bring a tape recorder to help you remember the discussion.
  • Ask your eye care professional to write down his or her instructions to you.
  • Ask your eye care professional for printed material about your condition.
  • If you still have trouble understanding your eye care professional’s answers, ask where you can go for more information.
  • Other members of your health care team, such as nurses and pharmacists, can be good sources of information. Talk to them, too.

Today, patients take an active role in their health care. Be an active patient about your eye care.

Remember…

If you have diabetes, get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year.

  • Proliferative retinopathy can develop without symptoms. At this advanced stage, you are at high risk for vision loss.
  • Macular edema can develop without symptoms at any of the four stages of diabetic retinopathy.
  • You can develop both proliferative retinopathy and macular edema and still see fine. However, you are at high risk for vision loss.

Your eye care professional can tell if you have macular edema or any stage of diabetic retinopathy. Whether or not you have symptoms, early detection and timely treatment can prevent vision loss.

What can I do if I already have lost some vision from diabetic retinopathy?

If you have lost some sight from diabetic retinopathy, ask your eye care professional about low vision services and devices that may help you make the most of your remaining vision. Ask for a referral to a specialist in low vision. Many community organizations and agencies offer information about low vision counseling, training, and other special services for people with visual impairments. A nearby school of medicine or optometry also may provide low vision services.

What research is being done?

The National Eye Institute (NEI) is conducting and supporting research that seeks better ways to detect, treat, and prevent vision loss in people with diabetes. This research is conducted through studies in the laboratory and with patients.

For example, researchers are studying drugs that may stop the retina from sending signals to the body to grow new blood vessels. Someday, these drugs may help people control their diabetic retinopathy and reduce the need for laser surgery.

Ask questions and get the information you need to take care of yourself and your family.

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