Diabetes affects many parts of your health, including your vision. Elevated blood sugar levels can damage the vessels in your eyes, leading to various problems that can get worse if left without treatment.
Regular eye appointments are important for everyone, but they are essential for people with diabetes. People with both type one and type two diabetes should typically get an annual eye exam so the eye doctor can monitor for any problems that may occur, such as diabetic retinopathy.
Keep reading to learn why you need to have an eye exam if you have diabetes!
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Long-term diabetes puts people at risk for an eye condition known as diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of vision loss in working-age Americans.
When consistently elevated blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in your eye, it is called diabetic retinopathy. The condition causes blurry vision that can continue to get worse.
Without treatment, diabetic retinopathy can eventually cause permanent vision loss. Other symptoms include floaters, shadows in your vision, and difficulty seeing at night.
These symptoms develop due to changes in your retina from the growth of abnormal blood vessels. The retina is a very delicate sheet of tissue at the back of your eye.
The retina is needed in order to detect light, making it a critical part of eyesight. As blood sugar levels stay elevated, the vessels become blocked and swollen.
Your body may try to create new vessels to carry blood to the retina. These vessels are already weak and poorly formed and may eventually swell and leak, causing further vision changes and damage.
Before the new blood vessels begin to form, it might not be evident that any changes are occurring in your vision. Once they start to grow, you are at risk of vision loss without treatment intervention.
How Is Diabetic Retinopathy Diagnosed?
Your eye doctor can tell whether or not you have diabetic retinopathy by looking carefully inside your eye. Using special drops, they will dilate your pupils.
They can look into your eye with a special microscope for enlarged blood vessels or leakage. If you’ve had diabetic retinopathy for a while, they may find the poorly formed replacement blood vessels or scarring.
Can Diabetic Retinopathy Be Treated?
Keeping a handle on your blood sugar will help to prevent damage. Managing your blood sugar with medication, regular exercise, and a healthy diet are the best places to start.
Talk with your eye doctor about changes you can make to help promote healthy vision. The disease is not reversible, and any damage that it causes to your retina is likely to be permanent.
Once it develops, eye doctors can provide treatment to preserve your vision and prevent the condition from worsening. Your eye doctor may recommend injections to slow the progression of the condition.
There are some surgical options to treat diabetic retinopathy, but it is best to focus on prevention. The best way to prevent vision changes is to visit your eye doctor for annual eye exams.
Are you ready to schedule an eye exam? Schedule an appointment at Stahl Eyecare Experts in Garden City, NY, today!