Diabetes is a serious condition that not only impacts your body’s ability to process sugar but can influence other areas of the body, including the eyes. One of the most significant concerns is the development of diabetic retinopathy. This condition develops because the blood vessels inside the retina become damaged and could impact vision, or cause the patient to go completely blind. Because of the numerous concerns surrounding diabetes and your vision, regular eye exams should be scheduled.
Unfortunately, eye issues may not be symptomatic until they are very severe. This is especially true when it comes to diabetic retinopathy, which only shows symptoms once your vision is damaged. Regular eye exams will ensure that problems are detected early and that a treatment plan can be put in place right away.
It is common for people to assume that their regular doctor will handle any issues with their eyes. However, while a medical doctor may do a quick check on your eyes, it is critical to have a thorough eye exam completed by an eye doctor. These professionals have the equipment necessary to do a complete exam. The American Diabetes Association suggests that individuals with type 1 diabetes should have their first eye exam within five years of being diagnosed. Individuals with type 2 diabetes should have their first eye exam as soon as possible once they are diagnosed. Type 2 diabetes can go undetected for several years so retinopathy may have already started.
If your doctor detects early stages of retinopathy, you may be expected to have several exams per year to monitor its progression. Patients should receive yearly eye exams following their first one in order to ensure that their eyes are healthy and their vision is not impacted.
During the exam, the doctor will test your vision by having you look at various letters of different sizes. From there, you may be given eye drops to dilate your eyes. Some patients indicate a burning sensation or a metallic taste because of the eye drops. From there, the doctor will use a bright light to examine all areas of the eye that may be impacted by diabetes. Specifically, the doctor will be looking at the blood vessels, back of the eye, as well as the optic nerve. Finally, to get an even more complete look at the eye, your doctor may take pictures with a camera without even needing to use the dilation drops.
The more information that your doctor has, the faster they can help identify any issues. You’ll want to mention any symptoms you are experiencing, when the symptoms occur, and what your glucose levels are when the symptoms happen. You’ll also want to mention any additional health concerns that you have as this could influence your eye health.
If you had to have your eyes dilated, you should expect to have blurry vision for at least six hours following the exam. Sunlight and other bright lights may irritate your eyes. You should plan on having someone else drive you home from the appointment. If you did not have your eyes dilated, then you can carry on with your regular activities as usual.
Eye exams are an important part of your health. Please contact our office if you would like to know more about diabetic eye exams or other services that we offer. Our dedicated staff is committed to providing only the best services to our clients. Contact us today to learn more!