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Diabetic Eye Exam

Diabetic Eye Exams: Taking a Closer Look at Your Eye Health

When you’re diagnosed with diabetes, it becomes clear that you’ll have to pay very close attention to your overall health. Your weight, your blood sugar, your cholesterol; but with all of these things to keep an eye on, eye health often falls by the wayside.

Diabetes can have a profound effect on your eyes. Cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma are all more likely in diabetic patients. Many of these eye problems show no symptoms, which it’s why it’s crucial that you get an eye exam at least once a year.

Even if the doctor you normally see about your diabetes does a rudimentary eye test, you must see an optometrist. Only an actual optometric practice has the necessary technology to gather all the required information about your eyes.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Though diabetic eyes are prone to a number of eye conditions, diabetic retinopathy is one that is specific to patients with diabetes.
Over time, high blood glucose levels cause the blood vessels in and around the retina to decay. This decay eventually results in blood and fluid leaking into the inside of the eye, occasionally developing into scarring. This fluid leakage or scarring makes it difficult for light to reach the retina. The damage is cumulative, and can eventually lead to significant vision loss.

Symptoms

Diabetic retinopathy usually does not show any symptoms, making eye exams crucial to catching the disease before it causes serious damage. Occasionally in the early stages, patients will notice dark spots or shadows which appear to float across their field of vision.

Treatment

The damage that has already been sustained from this disease cannot be reversed. There are, however, a few options to treat diabetic retinopathy; effectively preventing further damage or vision loss.

Lasers can be used to burn the damaged blood vessels. This treatment works similarly to cauterization: keeping the blood vessels from leaking any more blood or fluid into the eye.

The centre of the eye is made of a gel-like material called the vitreous. A vitrectomy removes the vitreous (along with the leaked blood and potential scar tissue), replacing it with a transparent solution of salt water.

An injection of anti-inflammatory drugs into the eye can hinder the growth of new, irregular blood vessels. This helps prevent scarring and further bleeding.

The Diabetic Eye Exam Process

A diabetic eye exam is similar to a standard exam, but much more thorough. Since diabetic patients are much more vulnerable to eye diseases and conditions, we use all the technology at our disposal to get the best look at your eye health, while maintaining a high level of comfort for you.

More often than not, we’ll dilate your pupils with eye drops. This opens up your eyes, so to speak, giving us a wider perspective and view of the inner workings of your eye.

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