At OCLI, we take preventative care very seriously. Patients with diabetes are especially susceptible to additional health problems, including eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy. This means that diabetic patients need to attend eye examinations more often than other patients.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition in which the body cannot produce enough of the hormone insulin on its own, resulting in high blood glucose (sugar) levels. Normally, your pancreas releases insulin to help you store and use the sugar and fat from the food that you eat. When insulin production is low, or non-existent, blood glucose spikes to dangerous levels. There are several different types of diabetes, and different ways to control each type.
What is diabetic eye disease?
Diabetic eye disease is used to describe a group of eye diseases associated with diabetes. There are several different types of diabetic eye disease.
Diabetic retinopathy. This disease affects the blood vessels of the retina, which is the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss and blindness among diabetic patients.
Diabetic macular edema. This is a secondary disease usually as a result of diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic macular edema is the swelling of the center of the retina (called the macula).
Cataracts. Diabetic patients are more likely to develop cataracts. Cataracts occur when the naturally clear lens in the eye becomes cloudy, causing blurry vision and eventually blindness.
Glaucoma. Diabetic patients are also more prone to develop glaucoma, a condition that causes damage to the optic nerve. Vision loss from glaucoma is irreparable and can eventually cause permanent blindness.
Why are eye examinations so important?
Eye examinations are important for every patient, as they help catch any eye diseases before they cause damage to vision. For diabetic patients, eye examinations are especially important. Yearly visits to your eye care physician help to keep tabs on any changes in your eyes. Generally, younger diabetics will not experience any drastic changes in their eye health; however, over the years, diabetes can take a toll on your eye health, especially if blood sugar is not well controlled. This means that diabetic eye conditions develop slowly, but often do not present major symptoms until the condition has progressed.
It’s important that your eye doctor is able to keep track of any existing eye conditions to help prevent vision loss in the future. Yearly visits enable doctors to follow the progression of diabetic eye disease so they can determine when treatment is necessary and minimize vision loss.
Our diabetic eye care experts are here to keep you healthy and give you tips on how to minimize or eliminate your chances of vision loss.