Diabetes is a disease that can affect the entire body, including the eyes. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment of any ocular complications is necessary to preserve vision in patients with diabetes. It is essential for patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes to have a comprehensive eye exam at least annually, or more frequently if recommended by your eye doctor. At Illumineyes Vision Care, our office coordinates with your primary care doctor and endocrinologist to ensure that all your medical needs are met. This continuity of care allows all your doctors to be aware of how diabetes is affecting your entire body. Ocular complications from diabetes include diabetic retinopathy, cataract, glaucoma, double vision, dry eye syndrome, and changes in glasses prescription.
Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels in the retina. In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy there are often no symptoms; vision may not change until the disease becomes severe and more difficult to treat. As the disease progresses, blurred vision may occur when the macula (the part of the retina that provides sharp, central vision) swells from leaking fluid. This condition is called macular edema. If new vessels grow on the retina, they can bleed into the eye, blocking vision. But even in advanced cases, the disease may progress without symptoms. That’s why regular eye exams for patients with diabetes is so important.
Diabetic retinopathy can only be detected with a thorough evaluation of the eye, including retinal photos and/or dilation. An evaluation of visual acuity, dilated eye exam (viewing the inside of the eye with lights and special magnifying lenses), retinal photos (to view the blood vessels in the retina and check for bleeding), along with assessment of pertinent health history are all necessary to properly diagnose the existence and severity of diabetic retinopathy. If diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed, laser procedures or injections may be necessary to slow the damage of the tissues of the eye and preserve vision.