Unfortunately, diabetes is a disease that can have significant impacts on various areas of the body, including your eyes. Because diabetes can have long-term impacts on your vision, it’s critical to schedule a diabetic eye exam on a regular basis. Monitoring your eyes on a consistent basis will ensure that any issues are detected early and that a treatment plan can be put in place right away.
Diabetes can increase your chances of developing glaucoma and cataracts. However, one of the more serious concerns is diabetic retinopathy. While the condition itself may not yield any symptoms at first, the disease will slowly progress and can worsen to the point of partial to total blindness. Because it is incredibly difficult to self-diagnose and can slowly progress, diabetic eye exams are especially important.
As mentioned, sometimes, diabetic retinopathy has absolutely no symptoms at all. However, you should contact your eye doctor right away should you experience any of the following symptoms:
Inability to focus
Floaters or dots in your field of vision
Changes in color vision
Any degree of vision loss
Typically, both eyes are impacted at the same time, but it is possible for only one of your eyes to experience the above symptoms. You’ll need a formal evaluation in order to determine if you do, in fact, have diabetic retinopathy.
While having diabetes certainly increases your chances of developing this disease, there are other qualifying factors that may increase the risk as well. Those factors include:
How long you’ve had diabetes
How well you’ve managed your diabetes
High blood pressure
Ethnicity (Hispanics and African-Americans are at higher risk)
In order to obtain a proper diagnosis, you must have a thorough examination completed. This process includes two diagnosis screenings: fluorescein angiography and optical coherence tomography.
While your eyes are dilated, your eye doctor can then inject a special dye into your bloodstream. This dye allows the doctor to clearly see where there are blockages or leaks in the blood vessels in your eyes.
This process involves getting very detailed images of your eyes. The images can clearly show the thickness of the retina as well as if there is any fluid leakage.
The good news is that there are a variety of treatment options available depending on the severity of the condition. In the early stages, your doctor may suggest some lifestyle changes so that you are living as healthy as possible. Then, your doctor will simply monitor the progression. However, additional treatments may be needed further down the line, such as:
Focal laser treatments
Scatter laser treatments
Keep in mind, while these treatments are incredibly effective, there is currently no cure for diabetic retinopathy.
The best thing you can do to avoid this disease is to have regular diabetic eye exams. Your regular doctor may be able to provide initial screenings; you should have an eye doctor perform the thorough exam. You should also try to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid skipping appointments simply because you don’t have any symptoms.
Eye exams are important, but diabetic eye exams maybe even more critical. If you have diabetes, it’s time to take control of your eye health. Contact our office today to schedule a thorough exam. Our dedicated staff is available to answer your questions and provide you with additional information you may need for your first appointment. We look forward to working with you!