Diabetic Related Eye Exams

Diabetic Related Eye Exams

You have almost certainly heard of Diabetes, which is one of the most common chronic health conditions in the United States with an estimated 100 million adults currently living with Diabetes or Pre-Diabetes. This metabolic disorder occurs when the body is no longer able to regulate its own blood sugar levels and requires intervention to keep them stable. Most people are aware that Diabetes can have serious consequences for our health. However, you may be surprised to learn that it can also affect our vision. This is because patients who are Diabetic can go on to develop a complication that known as Diabetic Retinopathy. Without prompt treatment, Diabetic Retinopathy can cause permanent vision loss.  It is for this reason that patients who suffer from Diabetes should have regular Diabetic eye exams.

What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?

The retina is like film in a camera and is located along the back part of the eye.  It contains cells that convert light and images that come into the eye into messages that are sent to the Optic Nerve and then to the brain.  The brain then receives the message and tells us what we can see and how clearly we can see it.

The retina relies on a continuous supply of blood, which is delivered using a network of tiny blood vessels.  Over time, having continuously high blood sugar can damage the blood vessels and cause blood to leak out of the blood vessels onto the retina.  If this happens, the retina could detach under the pressure of the heavy blood (Retinal Detachment) causing loss of vision.  If the blood leaks into the central vision area called the Macula, this will permanently cause loss of central visual acuity.  

Am I At Risk Of Diabetic Retinopathy?

Technically, anyone who suffers from Diabetes, whether it be Type 1 or Type 2, could be at risk of developing Diabetic Retinopathy. However, the condition is more likely in certain situations. These include if:

  • your blood sugar levels are uncontrolled or poorly controlled

  • you have a long history of Diabetes

  • you have High Blood Pressure (hypertension)

  • you suffer from High Cholesterol

  • you are pregnant

Regular Diabetic eye exams will enable your eye doctor to monitor your condition closely and ensure that any signs of Diabetic Retinopathy are detected and acted upon immediately.

What To Expect From Diabetic-Related Eye Exams?

Just as in a normal comprehensive eye exam, you will receive dilating eye drops.  Once your eyes are dilated, you will be taken in a room to get a special photo of your retina, which at the same time takes a sonogram of your central vision area to check for leaking blood vessels.  You will see a flash when each image is taken, but at no point should you be in any pain.

The information that your eye doctor will obtain from your examination will be able to tell them if you are experiencing any of the signs of Diabetic Retinopathy. If so, they will discuss the best way to get your condition under control. This could involve a combination of elements, including controlling your Diabetes more effectively, taking medications or more invasive treatment to preserve your vision.