If You Have Diabetes, Annual Eye Exams Are An Important Part Of Monitoring Your Health
Diabetes places your eyes at additional risk for eye diseases unique to those living with diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema (DME) are the two most well known of the four diseases grouped under the “diabetic eye disease” label.
Diabetes influences the development of several eye diseases. In addition to retinopathy and DME, diabetes also influences glaucoma and cataract development.
These eye diseases often begin asymptomatic, meaning that they do not present obvious symptoms (such as pain) that would alert you to their development.
Glaucoma, for example, is called the “silent thief of sight” because of how it causes tunnel vision in many people before they notice it.
Annual eye exams ensure that you are well-informed of your eye health, and that you are proactive in managing any new developments.
Sight lost to diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, and glaucoma cannot be restored. Sight lost to cataracts can often be restored via cataract removal surgery.
If it has been more than a year since your last eye exam, schedule an appointment to have one of our doctors examine your eyes.
More Information About Diabetic Eye Disease
Diabetic retinopathy is common among people who have lived with diabetes for 20 years or more, with nearly 80% of those people developing some form of retinopathy.
It is important to maintain your blood sugar at ideal levels. When blood sugar levels elevate for extended periods of time, the capillaries in the retina are damaged. This causes the blood vessels to become weak and die, leaking fluids, and promoting the development of DME.
Diabetic retinopathy has four main stages of development:
Diabetic macular edema takes on two forms (focal DME, which occurs because of problems in the eye, and diffuse DME, which occurs when the capillaries in the retina begin to swell).
Diabetic macular edema develops in people that also have diabetic retinopathy. As blood vessels within the retina swell, this restricts blood flow to the retina. These swollen blood vessels often leak fluids, causing vision impairment (hazy, blurry vision, floaters, double vision).
We will work with you to manage your retinopathy/DME, though there is no direct cure for either disease. Controlling your blood sugar levels through lifestyle influences is an important part in preventing vision loss to retinopathy/DME.
Laser treatments and anti-VEGF therapies are effective at treating DME. Learn more about DME here.