Diabetes affects the body's ability to use and store sugar, leading to high blood sugar levels. Over time, this high blood sugar can damage blood vessels throughout the body, including those in the eyes. This damage can lead to eye conditions. Every diabetic needs to understand the potential risks and ways to maintain good eye health.
Diabetes and eye health are closely linked. High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels, leading to a host of diabetic-related eye conditions.
Diabetic retinopathy, for example, is a condition that affects the blood vessels in the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. It's the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes and the leading cause of vision impairment and blindness among working-age adults. Diabetic macular edema, on the other hand, is a complication of diabetic retinopathy that causes swelling in the area of the retina called the macula.
Then we have glaucoma, a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, which is vital for good vision. This damage is often caused by an abnormally high pressure in your eye, and diabetes increases the risk of developing glaucoma. Lastly, cataracts, the clouding of the normally clear lens of your eye, also occur more frequently and at a younger age in people with diabetes.
Given the serious nature of these conditions, the importance of diabetic eye screenings cannot be overstated. Regular eye exams are crucial for early detection and treatment of these conditions. It's important to remember that in the early stages, diabetic eye disease often has no symptoms. By the time vision loss occurs, it's usually too late to restore lost vision.
Regular eye screenings allow your ophthalmologist to monitor your eyes for early signs of disease before you even notice any changes in your vision. This is why it's crucial for diabetic patients to undergo these screenings as part of their routine healthcare.
These screenings can also detect other non-diabetic-related eye conditions. Thus, they provide an overall assessment of your eye health. It's a preventive measure that can save your vision.
Regular eye exams are typically focused on correcting vision problems, like myopia or hypermetropia. They may not be designed to detect diabetic eye disease specifically.
Special eye exams for diabetic patients, however, are intended to closely monitor the health of your eyes and detect any signs of disease early. These exams often include a comprehensive dilated eye exam, which is the best way to detect diabetic eye disease. During this exam, drops are placed in your eyes to widen, or dilate, your pupils. This allows your eye care professional to see inside your eyes and check for signs of damage.
In addition to early detection, these special eye exams also help in the management and treatment of diabetic eye disease. If any signs of disease are detected, your eye care professional can recommend a course of action to prevent the disease from progressing.
As a diabetic patient, you might wonder how often you should be getting your eyes checked. The American Diabetes Association recommends that adults with diabetes get a dilated eye exam at least once a year. However, your doctor may recommend more frequent exams depending on your specific condition and risk factors.
It's also crucial to remember that you should not wait for symptoms to appear before scheduling an eye exam. Diabetic eye disease often has no early symptoms, but it can be detected early with a comprehensive dilated eye exam. As with many health issues, early detection is key to preventing serious complications.
Diabetes can have serious implications for eye health, leading to several diabetic-related eye conditions. But with regular special eye exams for diabetic patients and a proactive approach to managing diabetes, it's possible to detect these conditions early and protect your vision.
If you or a loved one has diabetes, schedule an eye exam at Eldorado Vision & Optical in our McKinney, Texas office. We provide quality eye care services and products for the entire family. Please call (972) 564-8400 to book an appointment today.