Early Detection Can Preserve Sight
Diabetes can contribute to various health problems, impacting your life every day. The chronic condition affects how the body produces or uses insulin—a hormone regulating blood sugar. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can weaken or damage cells, including the tiny blood vessels in your eyes.
People with diabetes have a 25% higher risk of developing sight-threatening conditions. But 95% of vision loss caused by diabetes can be prevented with early detection and treatment.
Diabetic eye exams help monitor changes to your eye health, so you receive the care you need to preserve your sight.
How Diabetes Affects Sight
Blood sugar or glucose is your body’s energy source, but your cells need insulin to absorb or use blood sugar. When uncontrolled diabetes causes the body to stop producing or responding to insulin, blood sugar levels rise, and your cells starve. Over time, the body breaks down fat cells, releasing ketones (which can make your blood more acidic).
Without balanced sugar levels, blood vessels can weaken or grow abnormally—including blood vessels in the retina (light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye). As a result, blood vessels can swell or leak, decreasing blood flow to the eye. Additionally, leaking blood vessels can also cause eye tissue to function poorly.
What Is Diabetic Eye Disease?
People with diabetes are more likely to develop problems affecting eye health and sight. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to diabetic eye disease—a group of 4 eye disorders: cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, and glaucoma.
Regular diabetic eye exams help ensure changes to eye tissue and blood vessels are detected early, so you can receive treatment or management options.
A cataract can develop in one or both eyes. It’s a cloudy or opaque spot in the eye’s lens. Like the lens of a camera, the eye’s lens adjusts to help capture a clearer image. The tissue is clear and flexible, shrinking or expanding when trying to see near or far.
The lens is mainly made of proteins. When these proteins break down, they clump together to form a cataract, rescuing the lens’ flexibility and transparency. Over time, cataracts can worsen or grow, reducing vision and leading to blindness.
Cataracts can result from natural changes due to aging, which is why cataracts are more common in adults over 55. However, damage to the lens because of injury or disease can cause cataracts to develop sooner.
In the early stages, people with cataracts can experience blurry vision. Contact lenses or glasses can help restore sharper vision. However, as cataracts develop, nonsurgical methods can become ineffective. Then, cataract surgery may be recommended to restore vision.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when damaged blood vessels in the retina swell and leak. Abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina, decreasing blood flow and reducing vision. Additionally, the fluid may cause the macula to thicken and swell, causing diabetic macular edema.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy can include:
- Blurred or hazy vision
- Difficulty seeing at night
- An empty or dark spot (center vision)
- Seeing floaters or spots
Treatment for diabetic retinopathy focuses on stopping leaking and reducing abnormal blood vessel growth. Controlling diabetes with medication, exercise, and diet can help decrease swelling and reduce symptoms. When the disease progresses, it can be treated with:
Dry Eye Relief
Edema is the medical term for swelling caused by too much fluid. Diabetic macular edema is the swelling of the macula, the oval-shaped center of the retina. The macula detects light properties essential for vision, including central vision, fine details, and color.
When the blood vessels supplying the retina leak, the fluid causes the macula to thicken and swell. When macula function is impaired, it can cause:
- Blurred or wavy central vision
- Faded or washed-out colors
- Difficulty reading
Treatment aims to stop fluid leaking, therefore reducing swelling. In addition to managing diabetes as a whole, additional treatments for macular edema can include:
- Anti-VEGF or steroid injections
- Laser treatment
- Medicated eye drops
Glaucoma causes progressive optic nerve damage. The optic nerve is a bundle of over one million nerve fibers at the back of the eye. The nerve fibers send visual information (as electric signals) from the retina to the brain. When nerve fibers are lost, vision is lost. Over time, glaucoma leads to significant optic nerve damage, resulting in blindness.
There are many forms of glaucoma, but the most common in the US is open-angle glaucoma. Excess fluid in the eye increases pressure on the optic damage, slowly causing the nerve fibers to deteriorate. With diabetes, the extra fluid results from damaged blood vessels leaking inside the eye.
As open-angle glaucoma develops slowly, many people notice no symptoms until significant damage occurs. In time, people with glaucoma may see peripheral vision loss. Unfortunately, optic nerve damage cannot be reversed. However, early detection can help prevent further vision loss.
At Urban Optique & Eyecare, glaucoma screening is a routine part of our comprehensive eye exams.
Book Your Diabetic Eye Exam
The American Diabetes Association recommends annual dilated eye exams to help prevent vision loss. Diabetic eye exams focus on eye health issues and education for people managing diabetes. Receive in-depth evaluations and compassionate care at Urban Optique & Eyecare. Book your diabetic eye exam.Book Appointment
See More with Optomap Retinal Exams
At Urban Optique & Eyecare, we are proud to offer specialty technology for effective, and efficient eye care services.
We offer the Optomap retinal exam as an important part of our eye exams. Optomap produces an image that is as unique as your fingerprint and provides your doctor with valuable insight into your eyes.
Optomap allows us to see over 80% of your retina, which means we can get more information about the health of your eyes. And because many eye conditions can develop without symptoms, Optomap is a great tool in the detection and prevention of long-term vision and ocular damage.
- 4960 S. Gilbert Road, Suite 11
- Chandler, AZ 85249
- Phone: 480-802-7170
- Fax: 480-802-3812
- Email: [email protected]
- Monday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
- Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
- Wednesday: Closed
- Thursday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
- Friday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
- Saturday: 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
- Sunday: Closed
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