While most people are familiar with diabetes, they may not know that it can affect their whole body, including their vision. What may at first seem like a minor annoyance or inconsistency in vision may actually be a symptom of a diabetes complication that affects the eyes, called diabetic retinopathy.
At first, diabetic retinopathy may only cause mild vision problems that seem slightly disconcerting. Over time, however, diabetic retinopathy can result in impaired color vision, dark or empty areas in your vision or even vision loss. There are no early warning signs of diabetic retinopathy. In fact, the only way the disease can be detected is through a comprehensive eye exam. There are several tests in a diabetes eye exam in Oshkosh that can be used to check for early signs of the disease, but the simplest test is the dilated fundus exam.
What is a dilated fundus exam?
A dilated fundus exam (or funduscopic examination) may sound scary, but it’s actually simple, painless and part of any optometrist’s examination. The optometrist uses an ophthalmoscope, which is basically a series of lenses and a light, to look at your eye. The ophthalmoscope shines a light in your eye to dilate your pupil. Once the pupil is dilated, the doctor is able to get a clear view of the retina, which is at the back of the pupil.
What is the dilated fundus exam used to check?
Using this exam, the optometrist can assess the retina, optic nerve head, blood vessels and other features of the eye for signs of diabetic retinopathy. While a fundus exam alone cannot be used to diagnose diabetic retinopathy, it can let the doctor know if anything looks concerning or if further tests are needed.
Why is getting a dilated fundus exam so important if you have diabetes?
The best way to handle diabetes-related eye problems in through early detection. As mentioned earlier, there are no early symptoms of diabetic retinopathy. By having an annual diabetes eye exam in Oshkosh, you can ensure early detection and prompt treatment if any abnormalities are detected.
Who is at risk?
While anyone with diabetes is at risk for diabetic retinopathy, some diabetics are more at risk than others:
- Ethnicity: Individuals of African or Hispanic descent are more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy.
- Length of time: The longer you have diabetes, the higher your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
- Other conditions: If you suffer from certain other medical conditions besides diabetes, such as high blood pressure, your chances of diabetic retinopathy increase.
- Poor management: If you are not managing your diabetes well, your chances of developing diabetic retinopathy increase.
- Pregnancy: Women who are pregnant and have diabetes are more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy than pregnant women who don’t have diabetes.
- Smoking: Smoking will increase your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
If you suffer from diabetes, don’t put your vision at risk. Schedule your diabetes eye exam in Oshkosh today by contacting Dr. Jill’s Optical Shoppe, Oshkosh’s premier source for eye care and glasses!