Diabetes is a chronic disease that develops when the body is unable to use insulin properly or does not create enough of it. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, which is the body's primary energy source. Without insulin, the body cannot use sugar properly, leading to high blood glucose levels.
Over time, high blood glucose levels can cause damage to various parts of the body, including the eyes. Regular eye exams help identify eye problems early, before symptoms and vision loss set. That’s why it’s crucial that people with diabetes have their eyes checked regularly.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Type1 or 2 diabetes, Schedule an appointment at Junction Optometrists to help prevent diabetes-related vision loss.
What is a Diabetic Eye Exam
A diabetic eye exam is a comprehensive exam performed on individuals with diabetes to evaluate their eye health and detect any problems resulting from the condition. The exam typically includes a visual acuity test, a retinal assessment, and an evaluation of the blood vessels in the eyes.
Your eye doctor will conduct a dilated eye exam using eye drops to expand your pupils. This allows your eye doctor to take a better look at the retina and blood vessels. Your optometrist may also use a special camera that takes high-resolution retina images to detect any abnormalities.
The goal of the exam is to identify any signs of early-stage diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, glaucoma, or other eye problems. After your exam, your optometrist will guide you on when to schedule your next exam. Generally, individuals with diabetes who are in good health are advised to have an annual eye exam. However, consult with your healthcare provider to determine the appropriate time for your specific case.
Why is a Diabetic Eye Exam Important?
A diabetic person is at a higher risk of developing eye conditions and diseases, like diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, or glaucoma. If left unmanaged, diabetes can lead to eye damage and vision loss, potentially resulting in permanent blindness.
And we can’t stress this enough: early detection is vital. By having regular eye exams, we can detect potential problems and provide you with an effective treatment plan before damage has set in.
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common eye condition that affects people with diabetes and occurs when high blood glucose levels damage the blood vessels in the retina. The retina is the part of the eye that detects light and sends signals to the brain. When the blood vessels in the retina become damaged, they can leak fluid and blood, leading to swelling and vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy's early stages might not be linked to any obvious symptoms. However, as the condition worsens, the folling symptoms may emerge:
- Blurred or fluctuating vision
- Dark spots or floaters in the visual field
- Impaired color vision
- Vision loss or complete blindness (in severe cases)
The longer you have diabetes, the higher your chances of having diabetic retinopathy. The condition can develop in anyone with type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy).
Cataracts occur when the lens in the eye becomes cloudy, leading to blurry vision. Cataracts are common in older adults due to age-related protein breakdown in the eye. However, individuals with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing the disease at a younger age. This is because having diabetes often results in swelling, blood vessel damage, and high blood sugar levels, all of which exacerbate cataract formation.
The following are common symptoms of cataracts:
- Blurry, cloudy, or foggy vision
- Trouble seeing at night or in low light
- Sensitivity to light and glare
- Seeing halos around lights
- Double vision in one eye
- Colors appear faded or yellowed
It's important to note that cataract symptoms can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition, and some may not experience any noticeable symptoms in the early stages.
Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve and can cause vision loss. There are two main types of glaucoma: open-angle and angle-closure. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type and occurs when the eye's drainage canals become clogged, leading to increased eye pressure. Diabetes often damages the blood vessels in the eyes, raising the inner-eye pressure. As a result, patients carry an increased risk of developing glaucoma.
Early-stage glaucoma may not exhibit any obvious signs, but common symptoms of other forms of glaucoma include:
- Gradual loss of peripheral vision (also known as tunnel vision)
- Blurred vision or hazy vision
- Halos around lights
- Severe eye pain or headache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Eye redness or swelling
- Sudden loss of vision (in advanced cases)
It's important to note that each individual's case of diabetes is unique and differs in symptoms, health history, and overall health status. Consult with your healthcare practitioner to understand what specific eye care needs are best for you.
Diabetic Eye Care in West Toronto, Ontario
Junction Optometrists offers expert diabetic eye care services to help you protect your vision and maintain good eye health. Our experienced optometrists use advanced technology to detect potential issues early on and develop personalized treatment plans tailored to your unique needs. Schedule your diabetic eye care appointment today and take the first step towards preserving your vision.