Diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to properly use and store glucose, a form of sugar meant to be used by the body for energy to perform various bodily functions. As a result, this sugar accumulates in the bloodstream and causes one’s blood sugar level to rise to higher than normal levels. This can cause many complications throughout the body, especially in the eyes.
Comprehensive eye exams at least once a year minimizes the risk of diabetes related eye conditions going undetected and untreated.
Dr. Joseph Convertino in North Fort Myers, Florida states, “Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults in their 20s and mid 70s. 4.2 million diabetes patients in the United States between 2005 and 2008 developed a serious diabetes related eye condition called diabetic retinopathy. This is an eye condition in which high blood sugar levels cause blood vessels in the eye to begin leaking fluids or to become completely closed off. Left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause severe vision loss or even blindness. People diagnosed with diabetes have also proven to be at increased risk of glaucoma and early development of cataracts. Despite these risks, 1 in 4 people with diabetes fail to have an annual comprehensive eye exam, leading to irreversible loss of vision and other dire consequences.”
As many diabetes related conditions display no symptoms until significant damage has occurred, early detection is essential. Early detection of diabetes related eye conditions is most successful for people who follow their eye optometrist’s recommendation to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam once a year. This specialty eye exam consists of dilating your eye so that the pupil is enlarged, allowing your optometrist a wider window through which to inspect the retina for signs of retinopathy and other eye damage that could be caused by your diabetes. Included in a comprehensive exam is a tonometry test, in which a quick puff of air is blown into your eye or a pressure-sensitive tip is gently placed near or against it. The tonometry test measures your internal eye fluid pressure. If your eye doctor detects that your internal eye fluid pressure is higher than normal, this may be an indication of glaucoma. Statistics show that early detection through a dilated eye exam, timely treatment and appropriate follow-up can reduce your risk of significant vision loss from these conditions by as much as 95%.
Dr. Convertino explains, “If you experience blurry vision, double vision, or one or both of your eyes hurt, it’s recommended you contact your eye doctor immediately. If your eyes get red and stay that way, you feel pressure in your eye, or you consistently see spots or floaters in your vision, these can also be symptoms of an underlying eye problem related to your diabetes.” Although seeing your optometrist with annual check-ups are recommended, there are numerous symptoms that you need to keep an eye out for that indicate that you should not wait for your annual appointment before seeing your eye doctor.