Diabetes affects all parts of your health, including your eyes. It can also increase your risk for glaucoma and early cataract development.
A frequent complication of diabetes in the eye is the development of a condition called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy can seriously threaten your vision if left untreated, which is why regular eye appointments are crucial.
Annual diabetic eye exams are essential for maintaining your eye health and vision. Keep reading to learn more about the importance of diabetic eye care!
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that damages the retina. The retina is vital for sight since it detects the light that enters the eye.
The retina is a thin sheet of tissue with millions of photosensitive cells. It is incredibly fragile, so vision will likely be affected if any issues arise.
Prolonged high blood sugar damages blood vessels. When it damages the vessels in the retina, it can be sight-threatening.
Diabetic retinopathy only worsens over time, eventually leading to vision loss if it is not treated in time. The eye may begin to create new vessels in response to the condition, but these blood vessels are usually poorly formed.
If the condition progresses to these later stages, the weakened blood vessels can leak, and fluid can accumulate behind the retina. If too much fluid accumulates behind the retina, it can cause a retinal detachment.
How Do Eye Doctors Check For Diabetic Retinopathy?
During a comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor performs various tests to determine the health of your eyes and the clarity of your vision. Diabetic retinopathy may not present many visual symptoms at first.
An eye doctor can detect and diagnose it before the disease causes permanent problems. When looking for signs of diabetic retinopathy, your eye doctor will consider several factors.
Your eye doctor will likely ask you about your last A1c and blood sugar readings. They will also consider your eye health history and any other health problems you may be experiencing.
A visual acuity test can help determine how severely your central vision has been affected. A refraction test will help develop a prescription size for your vision needs.
Your eye doctor may also test your eye pressure to ensure it is at an average level. Finally, they will thoroughly examine the retina at the back of your eyes for signs of diabetic retinopathy.
Your eye doctor may refer you to a retina specialist for additional testing if needed.
Can Diabetic Retinopathy be Treated?
It’s possible to slow or even stop the disease from getting worse. The treatment method for diabetic retinopathy is determined by how advanced the condition is.
In the early stages, you might be able to get by just by monitoring your blood sugar. This can be done with diet, exercise, and insulin management.
The later stages of diabetic retinopathy may require further treatment, such as surgery to ensure the vision is preserved. Laser surgery can seal the blood vessels and stop new vessels from showing up.
Eye doctors often give injections to deliver anti-inflammatory medication and treat diabetic retinopathy. The best way to avoid vision changes from diabetic retinopathy is to focus on prevention and early detection.
Do you want to learn more about diabetic retinopathy? Schedule an appointment at Frantz Eyecare in Ft. Myers, FL, today.