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Diabetic Eye Exam

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Diabetes Introduces Several Complications to Your Eye Health. Visit Us for Regular Eye Exams to Ensure Optimal Ocular Health

You may have heard the term diabetic eye disease, which describes a group of eye conditions that affect people living with diabetes. If you have diabetes, it is important to be diligent with respect to your eye health.

Annual eye exams are a must. Vision loss is rarely reversed, meaning that our primary goal is to preserve as much of your vision as possible. If you have diabetes, this means that you have to take care of your eyes differently compared to someone who does not have diabetes.

Diabetes increases your risk for several serious eye diseases, including glaucoma, cataracts, as well as the diseases grouped under diabetic eye disease. People with all types of diabetes are at risk for developing diabetic eye disease.

Early detection and treatment of diabetic eye disease can reduce the risk of blindness by as much as 95%. This is best accomplished through regular comprehensive eye exams, and with close collaboration with our Optometrists.

Diabetic Eye Exams

What is diabetic eye disease?

The term diabetic eye disease is used to describe several eye diseases that affect people with diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy is the most well known of these diseases, though diabetic macular edema (DME), cataracts, and glaucoma are also included in this grouping.

Who is at risk?

Anyone with diabetes is at risk for developing diabetic eye disease. This risk increases the longer you have had diabetes. Nearly 50% of people with diabetes have some form of diabetic retinopathy, though only half are aware of it.

What are symptoms of diabetic retinopathy/DME?

As with many eye diseases, the early stages of diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema are light on symptoms. As the disease progresses, and by the time it’s usually noticed, damage to vision occurs.

Symptoms include:

  • Appearance of floating spots
  • Blurred vision
How is diabetic eye disease diagnosed?

A dilated eye exam will test for diabetic eye disease. During the exam we will perform the following tests:

  • Visual acuity test – How you are able to see at various distances
    Tonometry – Determines your eye pressure
  • Retinal examination – We are looking for signs of damage on the retina and optic nerve
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT) – This provides detailed images of the eye and optic nerve

We are testing for: changes to blood vessels; leaking blood vessels; fatty deposits; swelling of the macula (indicative of DME); changes in the lens; damage to nerve tissue.

Next Steps

Diabetes and Your Eyes: How to Protect Your Vision

Protecting your eyes starts with receiving annual dilated eye exams. This exam is more in-depth than a standard eye exam; it enables us to assess your eye for all signs of developing diabetic retinopathy or diabetic macular edema. Depending on the results of your exams, we may specify a more frequent examination schedule.High blood sugar is known to damage the blood vessels in the retina, leading to retinopathy. Studies have shown that actively controlling your diabetes through diet and lifestyle factors can have an influence on the development of diabetic retinopathy.

How is diabetic macular edema treated? DME is treated through a variety of mechanisms, either individually or combined.

Anti-VEGF injection therapy
– These injections block a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), preventing additional blood vessels from growing and resulting in a decrease of fluid in the retina.

Most people require monthly injections for the first six months of treatment, with the frequency of injections reducing as treatment progresses.

    • Focal/grid macular laser surgery – Using a precise laser, small burns are made on the damaged blood vessels. This seals them, reducing how much fluid is leaked into the retina.
    • Corticosteroids – While effective in suppressing the development of DME, prolonged use of corticosteroids can increase the risk of cataracts and glaucoma.

More Information About Diabetic Retinopathy

The four stages of diabetic retinopathy – Diabetic retinopathy has four stages:

Mild nonproliferative retinopathy

Microaneurysms take place in the retina’s blood vessels, potentially leaking fluid into the retina.

Moderate nonproliferative retinopathy

The retina’s blood vessels swell, impairing their ability to transport blood.

Severe nonproliferative retinopathy

 Much of the retina is starved of blood, causing the retina to attempt to regrow new blood vessels. These new blood vessels are often weak and cause further damage.

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR)

New blood vessels grow along the surface of the retina and into the vitreous gel (a fluid that fills the eye). These fragile blood vessels are prone to damage, and often leave scar tissue when they die. This scar tissue can cause retinal detachment, which can result in total vision loss.