Scheduling regular appointments with an eye care professional is key for maintaining healthy vision. However, if you have a health condition like diabetes, eye exams are even more important.
Diabetes is a health condition that causes you to have chronically high blood sugar. It can affect all different parts of the body, including the eyes.
Not only does diabetes significantly increase your chances of developing other conditions like glaucoma or cataracts, but it can also damage your eyes directly. Diabetic retinopathy is one disease commonly caused by long-term diabetes.
Keep reading to learn how often you may need to have an eye exam if you have diabetes!
What Are the Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy progressively damages the retina. The retina is a thin sheet of light-sensitive tissue on the back interior wall of the eye. The retina is particularly fragile, and injury to it can quickly cause vision loss.
General loss of vision isn’t the only symptom to expect from diabetic retinopathy, however. As the condition sets in, you may notice an increase in spots or floaters in your vision.
You may have a single, large empty spot in the middle of your eyesight. Generally, blurred vision is another common side effect.
Diabetic retinopathy is particularly noticeable at night when there is less light available.
What Causes Diabetic Retinopathy?
The way diabetic retinopathy damages your vision is typically pretty simple. Chronically high blood sugar in patients with diabetes causes blood vessels to weaken in the retina.
These blood vessels begin to seep blood and fluid. In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, the eye condition is nonproliferative, meaning there aren’t new blood vessels growing.
As the disease advances, larger blood vessels may begin to be affected, causing fluid to pool behind the retina’s center. By the time diabetic retinopathy reaches its advanced stage, new blood vessels may begin to form in an attempt to deliver blood to your retina.
These new blood vessels are typically weak and malformed, leading to further damage. Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy start slowly, so you may not notice an issue until permanent damage has occurred.
That is why you should be scheduling regular checkups with the eye doctors at Frantz EyeCare in Fort Myers, Florida. Early detection of diseases is the best way to stop symptoms from getting worse or becoming permanent, besides prevention.
How Do You Prevent Diabetic Retinopathy?
The best way to prevent diabetic retinopathy is to keep your diabetes under control. Prioritize healthy eating and exercise, and closely monitor your blood sugar levels as instructed by your doctor.
Insulin or other diabetic medications can help keep your blood sugar in check. If you are a smoker, quitting smoking can help you eliminate certain complications from diabetes.
If you develop diabetic retinopathy, you might not need medical treatment right away. In the early stages, you can reverse the progress of diabetic retinopathy by controlling your diabetes.
Work closely with your eye doctor to monitor the disease to ensure it does not progress unexpectedly. Advanced treatments can include injections and laser therapy, or even surgery.
Even if you get treatment, you will still need to keep your blood sugar down to stop diabetic retinopathy from returning.
Do you have diabetes, or has it been a while since your last eye exam? Schedule an appointment at Frantz EyeCare in Fort Myers, FL, today!