Taos, New Mexico
If you have diabetes, there’s a good chance that your doctor has encouraged you to get a diabetic eye exam. While it may not make sense to you that your blood sugar levels could affect your eyes, these are actually important exams to receive. In fact, having diabetes increases your risk for several eye conditions, like glaucoma and cataracts.
Having diabetes put you at high risk for a specific condition called diabetic retinopathy. This condition occurs when blood vessels in your retina sustain damage. Your retina is the light-sensitive portion near the back of your eye. When it is damaged, you will begin to lose your vision. Your eyesight can become blurry and even begin to disappear. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to develop this complication.
When you see your doctor for a diabetic eye exam, they will ask you if you experience these symptoms. Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include floaters in your field of vision, blurry vision, difficulty focusing, changes in the way you see colors, and vision that is good one day and poor the next, or dark and empty areas in your field of vision. If you are experiencing any of these, your doctor will do more in-depth checks for diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetes causes this problem because too much glucose in your blood damages the blood vessels that bring blood to your retina. Over time, this may block the flow of blood to your retina partially or completely.
Your body will try to combat this reduced blood flow to the retina by growing new blood vessels. However, these you usually are not as effective as the ones that were there originally. They may leak, rupture, or still struggle to bring enough blood to your retina.
Treating diabetic retinopathy can take several forms. The most common one is to treat your diabetes and keep it under control. You will need to follow a special diabetic diet, check your blood sugar regularly, and make sure that you take any insulin or other medications that your doctor provides.
In addition, people with diabetes should have their first eye exam soon after diagnosis. This is particularly true for people with type 2 diabetes, as it can go undiagnosed and untreated for a long time. Once you’ve had your first diabetic eye exam, it’s recommended that you have one every year after that.
If your diabetic retinopathy progresses too far, your doctor may recommend a laser treatment. This will focus a laser on those blood vessels that are leaking behind your eye. It will burn away the abnormal blood vessels, cauterizing them and helping your body to get the blood that it needs to the retina. Other treatments baby recommended based on the severity and advancement of your diabetic retinopathy.
If you have diabetes, it’s important to take care of yourself. This includes taking care of your eyes. Make an appointment today, and find a diabetic eye specialist who can help you keep your vision for a long long time.