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Diabetic Retinopathy

A Yearly Diabetic Eye Exam

Diabetics are at a higher risk of losing their vision. It is important for everyone, but especially diabetics, to have an annual eye examination. With the aid of our Canon retinal camera, we are able to diagnose diabetic changes in the eye earlier, which can improve prognosis.

Many eye illnesses do not manifest symptoms until permanent damage has occurred. It is one of the numerous reasons why a diabetic eye exam should be done once a year. The early stages of diabetic retinopathy have little effect on the affected person’s vision, but the disorder can harm vision later in life.

Symptoms

You might not have symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. As the condition progresses, you might develop:

  • Spots or dark strings floating in your vision (floaters)
  • Blurred vision
  • Fluctuating vision
  • Dark or empty areas in your vision
  • Vision loss

Causes

If your blood glucose level (blood sugar) is too high for too long, it blocks off the small blood vessels that keep your retina healthy. Your eye will try to grow new blood vessels, but they won’t develop well. The blood vessels start to weaken. They can leak blood and fluid into your retina. This can cause another condition called macular edema. It can make your vision blurry.

As your condition gets worse, more blood vessels become blocked. Scar tissue builds up because of the new blood vessels your eye has grown. This extra pressure can cause your retina to tear or detach.This can also lead to eye conditions like glaucoma or cataracts (the clouding of your eye’s lens) that may result in blindness.

Risks

If you have any form of diabetes — type 1, type 2, or gestational — you may get diabetic retinopathy. Your chance goes up the longer you have diabetes. Almost half of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some stage of diabetic retinopathy. And only about half of them know they have this disease.

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Tobacco use
  • Being African

 

Prevention

You can’t always prevent diabetic retinopathy. However, regular eye exams, good control of your blood sugar and blood pressure, and early intervention for vision problems can help prevent severe vision loss.

If you have diabetes, reduce your risk of getting diabetic retinopathy by doing the following:

  • Manage your diabetes. Make healthy eating and physical activity part of your daily routine. Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as walking, each week. Take oral diabetes medications or insulin as directed.
  • Monitor your blood sugar level. You might need to check and record your blood sugar level several times a day — or more frequently if you’re ill or under stress. Ask your doctor how often you need to test your blood sugar.
  • Ask your doctor about a glycosylated hemoglobin test. The glycosylated hemoglobin test, or hemoglobin A1C test, reflects your average blood sugar level for the two- to three-month period before the test. For most people with diabetes, the A1C goal is to be under 7%.
  • Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control. Eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and losing excess weight can help. Sometimes medication is needed, too.
  • If you smoke or use other types of tobacco, ask your doctor to help you quit. Smoking increases your risk of various diabetes complications, including diabetic retinopathy.
  • Pay attention to vision changes. Contact your eye doctor right away if your vision suddenly changes or becomes blurry, spotty or hazy.