Diabetes is the leading cause of preventable blindness in people between the ages of 30 and 69 in North America.
If you have diabetes, it's important to regularly visit an optometrist. You can see these eye doctors without a referral.
Optometrists can conduct a diabetic eye exam on patients. Keep reading to learn why this test is important and when you should get one.
WHAT IS A DIABETIC EYE EXAM?
A diabetic eye exam is a way of detecting eye problems before they affect the vision. Diabetes increases the risk of eye complications, also known as diabetic eye disease.
Cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy are all diabetic eye diseases. Eye doctors complete a dilated eye exam to check for these diseases.
Screening is important because many possible diabetic eye conditions don't present any symptoms in the early stages. The early stages are also when diseases are most treatable.
WHAT IS DIABETIC RETINOPATHY?
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that causes vision loss and blindness in people with diabetes. This disease affects blood vessels in the retina.
Like other eye diseases caused by diabetes, diabetic retinopathy won't cause symptoms at first. A diabetic eye exam can find this condition early so that you can take steps to protect your vision.
In the later stages of this disease, blood vessels in the retina begin to leak fluid and cause hemorrhages at the back of the eye.
If you forgo treatment, scars will form in the back of the eye. The blood vessels can also start bleeding again and be worse the second time around.
Managing your diabetes through an active lifestyle and healthy eating can help prevent or delay vision loss.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I GET A DIABETIC EYE EXAM?
A regular eye exam for diabetics is essential for diagnosing and treating diabetic eye disease at an early stage. Early treatment is key to preventing vision loss. Equally important, if there is diabetic retinopathy present, it is likely that there is leaking blood vessels in the organs of the body. It is important to notify your endocrinologist and family physician of these changes.
It's strongly recommended for diabetics to get regular eye exams at least once a year. A person should check with their doctor about when to undergo screening.
An optometrist will check inside the eye, eye muscles, eye pressure, and the eye's response to light. Your optometrist will likely recommend digital retinal images and/or optical coherence topography to examine the layers of the retina.
Depending on the results of an exam, an optometrist might suggest coming in again before the year is up.
Healthcare teams will recommend different plans for individuals based on their results, type of diabetes, and time since diagnosis.
SCHEDULE A DIABETIC EYE EXAM NOW
If you have diabetes, you are at a greater risk of getting eye diseases. To avoid vision loss and premature blindness, visit an optometrist yearly for an eye exam.
Doing so can catch conditions in the early stages. Early treatment can eradicate the risk of vision problems.