If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, you likely know it’s a condition that can lead to serious eye disease, and even blindness. With this in mind, you need to schedule a comprehensive diabetic eye exam at least once a year. This particular type of eye exam is the best way to prevent eye problems linked to diabetes, yet not everyone makes routine eye tests a priority.
It’s time to get in the know! Let’s take a look at what diabetic eye disease is, what to expect at this type of eye exam and the importance of scheduling annual diabetic eye exams in Oshkosh.
Diabetic eye disease
Of all the types of eye damage related to diabetes, diabetic retinopathy is the most common. However, having diabetes also raises a person’s risk of glaucoma and cataracts. Health care professionals want the public to know that both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can affect your eyes. When blood sugar levels get too high in either type, the blood vessels in the eye can become damaged.
What to expect at a diabetic eye exam
A diabetic eye exam is similar to a regular comprehensive eye exam. The first thing your eye doctor will do is check your vision by asking you to read letters on an eye chart on the wall in front of you. Next, your eye doctor examines the front of your eyes using a set of specialized lenses and lights. He or she may also check the pressure inside your eyes using an instrument called a tonometer. You will be given eye drops to dilate (open up) your pupils, then 15 to 30 minutes later the doctor can examine the back of your eyes—the delicate blood vessels in the retina.
People with diabetic retinopathy will have damaged blood vessels, so regular dilated eye exams are crucial. Fully dilated pupils expose the entire retina, which allows your doctor to identify any changes that have taken place. Another thing your eye doctor might do is photograph your retina, using a process called digital retinal imaging. This allows for a more thorough review of the eye, and is good for documentation.
Why diabetic eye exams are important
Type 1 and type 2 diabetics and diagnosed pre-diabetic individuals should schedule annual diabetic eye exams. Here’s why
- Eye damage can happen first: There are often no symptoms of diabetic retinopathy until it has reached an advanced stage. This means that eye damage and even permanent vision loss can occur before pain, blurry vision and other symptoms.
- Early detection is key: Annual diabetic eye exams can spot diabetic eye damage early, hopefully when it is still treatable. If you notice possible symptoms between exams—including eye pain, blurred vision, glare, floaters, droopy eyelids, difficultly reading, double vision and more—inform your ophthalmologist right away. While these symptoms can simply mean you need a new eyeglass prescription, it could also point to a more serious diabetic change.
Contact Dr. Jill’s Optical Shoppe to learn more about the importance of scheduling annual diabetic eye exams in Oshkosh!