The Importance of Having an Eye Care Specialist on Your Diabetes Management Team

If you have diabetes, you’ve probably heard the importance of testing your blood sugar, having regular foot checks, and eating a balanced diabetic diet. But, did you know that having your eyes checked by an eye doctor is just as vital to your overall diabetic health?

To celebrate National Diabetes Month, the care team at In Focus Vision Center and Eye Care wants you to understand the importance of your eye health. Let’s discuss a few of the basic things you need to know.

High blood sugar and your eyes

High blood sugar can lead to diabetic retinopathy, which damages the small vessels in the retina. These vessels can swell, leak, or even close off, stopping blood flow and ultimately decreasing your vision. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes.

If diabetic retinopathy is left untreated, it can progress to a complication known as Diabetic Macular Degeneration (DME). This eye condition affects up to 10% of people with diabetes and occurs when too much fluid accumulates in the macula, or center of the retina at the back of the eye. This portion of the eye is responsible for sharp vision, so if DME occurs, you may suffer from blurry or double vision and a sudden increase in the number of eye floaters.

People with diabetes are almost twice as likely to have glaucoma. With this eye disease, the optic nerve, a bundle of nerve fibers that connect your eyes to your brain are damaged. Diabetes also increases the risk of developing cataracts. In fact, diabetics are up to five times more likely to have a cataract, and they often happen at a younger age.

Importance of regular eye exams

Once diagnosed with diabetes, it’s essential you have an eye exam every one to two years with an eye doctor. Your regular doctor might complete a quick check, but an eye doctor has special equipment that allows them to look at the back of your eyes. If the eye doctor finds any problems, they may want to see you more often or perform more tests.

What happens during an eye exam?

Just like with any other doctor’s appointment, you will start by filling out paperwork so that our doctors know about your health history, medicines, allergies, and your medical history. Our doctors will do basic eye assessments, such as checking your vision using a chart of random letters of different sizes.

You might have a dilated retinal exam. During this exam, you will be given eye drops that widen the pupils of your eyes. Our doctor will then use a special instrument to look at the back of your eyes, blood vessels in the front and middle part of your eyes, and the area around the optic nerve. They will also take a look at the cornea or clear surface of the eye.

The exam will be comprehensive, to rule out any possible effects your diabetes causes to your eyes. The goal of the assessment is to identify any issues as soon as possible and create a plan that minimizes long-term damage to your vision.

 

Are you ready to schedule your diabetic eye exam? Call our office closest to you, or book online to meet with our eye care team today.  

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