Why Are Eye Exams Important for Patients with Diabetes?
The importance of diabetic eye exams is a key component to patient health. Regular eye exams are critical for patients living with diabetes for many years and those with a recent diagnosis. Still, many patients do not know all of the symptoms that come along with the disease. People with diabetes are more likely to develop blinding eye diseases. These diseases include diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts. Yet recent studies reveal a lower awareness of this issue among ethnicities at higher risk for the disease.
These findings are signaling that many Americans may not be defending themselves against diabetes-related vision loss. The American Academy of Ophthalmology encourages those with diabetes to take proactive steps to protect their vision.
Many Americans have diabetes and may not realize the potential issues for their eyes. Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to produce or use insulin effectively to control blood sugar levels. Too much glucose in the blood for a long period of time can cause damage to many vital body parts. These include the heart, kidneys, and blood vessels. It can damage the small blood vessels in the eye, as well.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that about 90 percent of vision loss from diabetes is preventable. With the right eye exams and medical care, patients can manage diabetes and protect eye health. Early detection is the key.
Are you ready to schedule your annual diabetic eye exam? Schedule an appointment with Glenn K. Davis, II, MD, in Pulaski, VA, or Galax, VA. We are here for your complete eye care.
What Is Diabetic Eye Disease?
Diabetic eye disease is a term used for several eye problems that can all result from diabetes. These include:
Diabetic retinopathy. This is the leading cause of blindness in American adults. Diabetic retinopathy causes damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eye.
Diabetic macular edema. A build-up of fluid in the macula causes it to swell, causing distorted vison.
Cataracts. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss, caused by a clouding of the lens.
Glaucoma. Glaucoma is a group of diseases that causes damage to the optic nerve.
Remember that cataracts and glaucoma are not privy to diabetic eye disease, and anyone can develop them. However, those with diabetes have an even greater chance of developing these diseases in their lifetime. Keep up with regular eye exams to find the signs of these diseases and other potential eye problems. This underscores the importance of diabetic eye exams.
Diabetes Can Harm Your Eyes in More Ways Than One
Diabetes can cause vision problems even if you do not have a form of diabetic eye disease. When blood sugar levels change quickly, it can affect the shape of your eye’s lens, causing blurry vision. Your vision goes back to normal after your blood sugar stabilizes. So, be sure that your blood sugar is under control for at least a week before checking your eyeglasses prescription. This will ensure that you receive the right prescription.
Diabetes is a risk factor for several other eye diseases. They include:
Maintaining good control of your blood sugar can help to prevent eye disease. As we mentioned, the highs and lows can greatly affect the lens, causing distorted vision. The more this occurs, the more strain there is on your eyes. Additional tips include following your primary care physician’s diet and exercise plan. This will play a great role in the overall manageability of your diabetes. If you have not had an eye exam with an ophthalmologist, it is crucial to get one now. Be sure to never skip the recommended follow-up exams.
Ways to Prevent or Manage Diabetic Eye Disease
As we mentioned above, having good control of blood sugar levels and a healthy diet and exercise are ways to prevent and manage diabetic eye disease. There are a few other tips on how to keep these diagnoses manageable, including:
Controlling blood pressure
Knowing family history
Having regular eye exams and follow-up appointments as needed
Seeing your eye doctor if any changes to vision occur
Each of these steps will aid in preventing and managing diabetic eye disease. While some may require surgery, it’s crucial to catch disease early on to avoid more invasive procedures.
What Is Included in a Diabetic Eye Exam?
A positive factor in the importance of diabetic eye exams is that they are relatively simple and take a brief time. Your eye doctor will begin by dilating the eyes. This will help them to check for abnormal blood vessels, swelling, retinal detachment, and other problems. They will also conduct a regular eye exam and check your prescription. The doctor will also look for signs of glaucoma or cataracts.
Your eye doctor will sometimes take pictures of the area behind the eyes to check on the blood vessels and other parts of the eye. When your eyes are dilated, they will be much more sensitive. Be sure to have sunglasses with you, or have someone else to drive you home.
Glenn K. Davis, II, MD, Knows the Importance of Diabetic Eye Exams
Glenn K. Davis, II, MD, is here to perform routine and diabetic eye exams for patients throughout Pulaski, VA, and Galax, VA. We hope that you understand the importance of annual eye exams and follow-up exams to stay on top of your eye health. Diabetes can cause grave problems for your eyes, and we want to help you keep up with regular treatments and checks. Want to know more about potential eye disease treatments? Discuss options with your eye doctor.
Call today to schedule an appointment. We look forward to meeting you!