Diabetic retinopathy Eye News

Signs of Diabetic Eye Disease

November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month, which raises awareness about and supports people who are affected by diabetes and its symptoms. It’s important to know the signs of diabetes and diabetic eye disease, because they often go undetected.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. There are various types of diabetes, the most common being types 1 and 2.

All types of diabetes are chronic diseases that affect the way your body produces blood sugar, or glucose. Those with type 1 produce little or no insulin, which controls your blood sugar levels. Those with type 2 either don’t produce enough insulin, or their body resists it.

Having too much glucose in the blood long-term can damage small blood vessels in the eyes, leading to various vision problems.

What is Diabetic Eye Disease?

Diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of blindness in people affected by diabetes. According to the CDC, about 90% of vision loss from diabetes can be prevented if detected early.

Diabetic eye disease is a collective term referring to multiple eye problems that can develop due to diabetes, including diabetic retinopathy, macular edema, glaucoma, and cataracts.

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when blood vessels in the retina expand, leak or close off completely. Similarly, macular edema occurs when the small retinal blood vessels begin to leak in, or near, the macula. Glaucoma is a class of diseases, which cause damage to the optic nerve and cataracts cause your lens to become cloudy.

People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing any of these eye diseases. The risk can also increase the longer a person has diabetes, and can lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated. Almost every patient with diabetes will develop some degree of diabetic eye disease, but with early detection and treatment, vision loss can remain minimal. If you’re affected by diabetes, be aware of the following signs of diabetic eye disease:

  • Blurry Vision
  • Floaters
  • Temporary loss of vision
  • Eye aches or pain
  • Watery eyes
  • Headaches

If you experience any of these symptoms you should seek an eye exam immediately. Studies have shown that sixty percent of diabetics do not follow through with recommended eye exams, which can lead to severe complications, like permanent blindness.

How to Protect Your Vision

To protect your eyes from the harmful effects of diabetic eye disease, you should practice healthy eye care by routinely visiting your ophthalmologist and updating your glasses prescription as necessary. Investing in glasses with a proper prescription can relieve you from blurry or foggy vision, and help combat nearsightedness caused by cataracts. If you’re showing signs of diabetic eye disease, your ophthalmologist may recommend more frequent visits and treatment. To better your chances of avoiding this circumstance, avoid harsh UV rays by wearing sunglasses, use eye drops to decrease dryness and irritation, and follow your primary care physician’s diet and exercise guidelines to keep your blood sugar levels at bay.

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Retina Specialist
Virginia and Washington D.C.

“Other” Eye Conditions Eye News Testing

Coronavirus | 2019-nCoV & Eye Disease

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The new coronavirus recently discovered may cause eye symptoms in infected individuals.  This article is meant to highlight the information made available to the public as health agencies such as AAO (The American Academy of OphthalmologyAOA (American Optometric Association), WHO (World Health Organization), and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) who are collecting and dispersing information as we learn more about this global outbreak.

Coronaviruses are not new.  While several variants cause mild infections, they are also responsible for the SARS, MERS and the present novel coronavirus outbreaks where infections can be deadly.  The novel Coronavirus (dubbed 2019-nCoV) has not been identified previous to December 2019 where it initially was reported to have infected six patients in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.

There are 7 known coronaviruses.  This family of viruses are zoonotic, that is, they are capable of infecting both animals and humans.  The SARS coronavirus was found to be transmitted from civet cats to humans. The MERS coronavirus can be transmitted between dromedary camels and humans. 

Based on genomic sequencing for the virus, the origin of 2019-nCoV is suspected to be batsAnother technical name for the novel coronavirus is SARS-CoV-2 and is closely related to SARS-CoV-1, the virus responsible for SARS.  SARS-CoV-1 also finds its origins in bats.  

The coronavirus is known to be at least as infectious as the influenza virus.  It is believed to be transmitted principally by aerosolized germs and/or direct contact.  

The disease causes respiratory symptoms:  cough, shortness of breath and pneumonia 

2019-nCoV (Coronavirus)

2019-nCoV is the name of the novel coronavirus.

There are seven known coronaviruses that infect humans.  Coronaviruses were first described in the 1960s.

Four viruses cause mild disease: HKU1, NL63, OC43 and 229E.

Three can cause deadly disease: SARS CoV-1, MERS, and SARS-CoV-2.

Coronaviruses cause similar symptoms to a cold are flu and are largely believed to spread from person to person via aerosolized respiratory droplets released when a person coughs or sneezes.  

Symptoms of COVID-19

The official name of the disease caused by coronavirus 2019-nCoV is called COVID-19.  COVID-19 stands for COronaVIrus Disease 2019.  

2019-nCoV causes COVID-19. 

Symptoms of coronavirus are similar to the flu:

  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Malaise
  • Shortness of breath

Coronaviruses can also cause pneumonia and bronchitis, but occurs more often in people with cardiopulmonary disease, compromised immune systems, infants and the elderly. 


The viral infection may cause conjunctivitis.  Symptoms include redness, discharge, photophobia and irritation.  Patients who have symptoms of conjunctivitis and respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, others?) and who have travelled recently to China (or who have been exposed to  may be carriers. 

Conjunctivitis caused by the virus is thought to be self-limited and not known to cause any damage to the eye. 


This recently identified coronavirus is similar to the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) coronavirus and the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) coronavirus.  As of this writing, it may be more contagious and has already caused more fatalities than the SARS outbreak. Starting in 2002, 8098 cases of SARS were reported including 774 deaths.  

The exact mechanism of transmission is not known, but person-to-person contact seems to be the predominant way the virus is spread.  Because some patients have conjunctivitis, health officials recommend protecting the eyes as a precaution to prevent spread, that is, it may be possible to contract the disease by getting droplets splashed or rubbed into the eyes.

Current recommendations also include thorough handwashing, covering your mouth and nose when sneezing (actually sneezing into your arm/elbow and not your hands is recommended) and avoid close contact with someone who may be ill.  Close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of an individual.

The virus seems to be very contagious.  The virus may have an incubation time of at least 14 days, perhaps longer.  Incubation time is defined as the time between contracting the virus and showing the first symptoms of disease.  It is likely that patients can be “carriers” (spreading the disease) during the incubation period.  

Healthcare Providers – PUI

The following resource from the CDC explains best practices for evaluating and reporting persons under investigation (PUI)

Healthcare providers are requested to take a detailed travelled history when contacting patients with fever and signs of lower respiratory illness (cough, shortness of breath).  Those patients seen with symptoms of conjunctivitis should also be evaluated for fever and respiratory illness. 

Travel history is conducted to identify patients with a travel to mainland China, especially Hubei Province, China OR who have had close contact with a confirmed 2019 nCoV patient within the past 14 days of onset of symptoms should be further evaluated.

Healthcare providers are urged to contact state and local health agencies. 


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“Other” Eye Conditions Eye News

The Dangers of Blue Light

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Beneficial Effects of Blue Light

There are merits to blue lightBlue light helps regulate circadian rhythm (our natural sleep cycle), improves alertness, boosts mood and is helpful with memory and cognitive functions.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that usually manifests during fall and winter with shortened periods of daylight, is often treated with light therapy – white light that contains the blue light wavelengths.

Damaging Effects of Blue Light

There are some healthcare and eye care professionals who have concerns about the possible harmful effects of blue light and feel that increased exposure to blue light emanating from our devices may lead to the development of macular degeneration.

To date, there is no physical proof or scientific evidence that blue light causes any damage to the eyes.

Blue Light and Sleep and Eye Strain

Blue light is known to wake us up and stimulate us.  But can it keep us up at night?

Blue light may indirectly keep us up.  Excessive amounts of blue light from our phones, tablets and computers may suppress production of melatonin.  Decreased melatonin may make it harder to get to sleep and therefore disrupt your biological clock.

Fatigue and dryness are often blamed on too much screen time (increased amounts of blue light), but may indeed be symptoms of “digital eye strain.”  Digital eye strain is really a normal phenomenon where we blink less frequently when concentrating and staring at our devices. In essence, our eyes get dry.

With prolonged periods of concentration or reading, our eyes get tired, fatigued and dry due to decreased blinking.  To combat these symptoms, consider the following:

  • Use artificial tears to lubricate the eyes
  • Adjust your screen allowing your eyes to angle slightly downward
  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule (see below)

The 20-20-20 Rule

Every 20 minutes look away from your device, refocus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds!

In addition, using a device screen which is much brighter than the ambient light may increase symptoms of eye strain.  Consider adjusting either room lighting or adjusting contrast settings on the device to reduce the symptoms of fatigue/strain during digital screen use.



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Eye News My Opinion Uncategorized

What is Blue Light?

Is blue light dangerous to your health?  To your eyes?  What is blue light?

We don’t normally see “the color” of light.  To most of us, light is not something we see, but is an element that allows us to see…and it’s colorless.  Scientists, however, describe light as part of the electromagnetic spectrum which includes visible light, xrays, gamma and radio waves.  Blue light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum of “visible light.”


Visible light is composed of the entire range of wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum which are visible to us.

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White light, the type of light we use everyday (such as the sun), seems to be colorless, but is really composed of many wavelengths of light of various colors.  Sir Isaac Newton discovered this when shining “colorless” sunlight through a prism thus separating the various wavelengths into its component colors.

An easy way to remember the various colors of white light is the mnemonic, “ROY G BIV”: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet.

The wavelenghts of the visible light range from 380 to 700 nm (nanometers).  A nanometer equals a billionth of a meter.  Violet light is the shortest wavelength whereas red light is the longest wavelength.  Shorter wavelengths of light contain more energy compared to longer wavelengths.

As you can see in the graphic, blue light is part of the visible spectrum ranging 380-500 nm.  Blue light can be further broken down to blue-violet light (380-450 nm) and blue-turquoise light (450-500 nm).

Essentially, about 1/3 of all visible light is blue light.


Blue light is everywhere.

Sources of blue light include the sun, digital TV screens, cell phone, tablets, computers, fluorescent and LED  lights.  A blue sky, but the way, derives its color from high-energy (short wave) blue light in the atmosphere.  The blue light scatters more than other wavelengths as it bounces off air and water molecules in the atmosphere.  Blue light really is everywhere.

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