Managing Diabetic Eyes
Unless you’ve visited us for a diabetic eye exam before, you may not be aware that diabetes affects the whole body—even the eyes. If you have diabetes, more frequent eye exams are recommended. Typically, yearly diabetic eye exams are suggested, but this can differ from person to person.
During diabetic eye exams, we’ll test for eye diseases that are more likely to develop in patients with diabetes. If any eye diseases are detected, we’ll discuss treatment and management options with you right away.
How Does Diabetes Affect Eye & Vision Health?
The components of the eye are very delicate and can be damaged easily. The retina is an extremely important example. The retina is responsible for receiving light focused light and sending visual information to the brain for it to interpret.
The retina is surrounded by small blood vessels. Since diabetes causes an improper balance in blood sugar, these blood vessels are at risk of blockage. If blocked, the blood vessels can potentially break and spill into the retina. If this happens, patients can experience vision loss.
Diabetic Retinopathy & Diabetic Macular Edema
Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common complications associated with diabetes. At the start, it’s not uncommon for diabetic retinopathy to show few to no symptoms. If left untreated, patients may experience vision problems or even blindness.
The condition is caused by diabetes affecting the blood vessels in the eye. Having unbalanced blood sugar can create breaches in the blood vessels, causing them to spill fluid into the eyes and damage the retina.
If left untreated, diabetic macular edema can develop from diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic macular edema occurs when leaking fluid from broken blood vessels enters the eye’s macula. If the macula is damaged, patients may have a hard time seeing clearly and can struggle with activities like reading and driving.
Cataracts are the clouding of the eye’s natural lens. This clouding can occur naturally as people age but can also develop earlier because of factors like diabetes. If not treated, cataracts can make it hard to see clearly.
To help manage vision loss from cataracts, stronger lens prescriptions can be used. However, to completely recover the vision lost from cataracts, surgery is needed. During cataract surgery, the natural lens of the eye is removed and replaced with an artificial lens.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that affect the eye’s optic nerve. If not identified early, glaucoma can eventually cause blindness. People with diabetes need to get tested for this group of eye diseases, as they’re nearly twice as likely to develop glaucoma.
In its early stages, glaucoma may not show any signs or symptoms. Without regular eye exams, it can be difficult to know whether glaucoma is present.
Diabetic Eye Diseases
Patients with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing certain eye diseases. To ensure their eye health is taken care of, we’ll check for these eye diseases more frequently.