What is a diabetic eye exam called?
Diabetes is becoming much more prevalent around the globe. According to the International Diabetes Federation, approximately 425 million adults were living with diabetes in the year 2017 and 352 million more people were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. By 2045 the number of people diagnosed is expected to rise to 629 million.
Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness as well as heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, neuropathy (nerve damage) and lower limb amputation. In fact, in 2017, diabetes was implicated in 4 million deaths worldwide. Nevertheless preventing these complications from diabetes is possible with proper treatment, medication, and regular medical screenings as well as improving your diet, physical activity and adopting a healthy lifestyle.
McRay Denton Vision Center Eye Clinic and diabetic eye exam in Chickasha, OK
Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Our Chickasha eye doctor has prepared the following answers to your questions about eye disease.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the hormone insulin is either underproduced or ineffective in its ability to regulate blood sugar. Uncontrolled diabetes leads to hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, which damages many systems in the body such as the blood vessels and the nervous system.
What is the first sign of diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic eye disease is a group of conditions which are caused, or worsened, by diabetes; including diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, glaucoma, and cataracts. Diabetes increases the risk of cataracts by four times and can increase dryness and reduce cornea sensation.
In diabetic retinopathy, over time, the tiny blood vessels within the eyes become damaged, causing leakage, poor oxygen circulation, then scarring of the sensitive tissue within the retina, which can result in further cell damage and scarring.
The longer you have diabetes, and the longer your blood sugar levels remain uncontrolled, the higher the chances of developing diabetic eye disease. Unlike many other vision-threatening conditions which are more prevalent in older individuals, diabetic eye disease is one of the main causes of vision loss in the younger, working-age population. Unfortunately, these eye conditions can lead to blindness if not caught early and treated. In fact, 2.6% of blindness worldwide is due to diabetes.
How can you tell if diabetes is affecting your eyes?
As mentioned above, diabetes can result in cumulative damage to the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy.
The retina is responsible for converting the light it receives into visual signals to the optic nerve in the brain. High blood sugar levels can cause the blood vessels in the retina to leak or hemorrhage, causing bleeding and distorting vision. In advanced stages, new blood vessels may begin to grow on the retinal surface causing scarring and further damaging cells in the retina. Diabetic retinopathy can eventually lead to blindness.
Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
The early stages of diabetic retinopathy often have no symptoms, which is why it’s vitally important to have frequent diabetic eye exams. As it progresses you may start to notice the following symptoms:
- Blurred or fluctuating vision or vision loss
- Floaters (dark spots or strings that appear to float in your visual field)
- Blind spots
- Color vision loss
There is no pain associated with diabetic retinopathy to signal any issues. If not controlled, as retinopathy continues it can cause retinal detachment and macular edema, two other serious conditions that threaten vision. Again, there are often NO signs or symptoms until more advanced stages.
A person with diabetes can do their part to control their blood sugar level. Following the physician’s medication plan, as well as diet and exercise recommendations can help slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy.
Scar tissues caused by the breaking and forming of blood vessels in advanced retinopathy can lead to a retinal detachment in which the retina pulls away from the underlying tissue. This condition is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately as it can lead to permanent vision loss. Signs of a retinal detachment include a sudden onset of floaters or flashes in the vision.
Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)
Diabetic macular edema occurs when the macula, a part of the retina responsible for clear central vision, becomes full of fluid (edema). It is a complication of diabetic retinopathy that occurs in about half of patients and causes vision loss.
Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy and Diabetic Macular Edema
While vision loss from diabetic retinopathy and DME often can’t be restored, with early detection there are some preventative treatments available. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (when the blood vessels begin to grow abnormally) can be treated by laser surgery, injections or a procedure called vitrectomy in which the vitreous gel in the center of the eye is removed and replaced. This will treat bleeding caused by ruptured blood vessels. DME can be treated with injection therapy, laser surgery or corticosteroids.
Prevent Vision Loss from Diabetes
The best way to prevent vision loss from diabetic eye disease is early detection and treatment. Since there may be no symptoms in the early stages, regular diabetic eye exams are critical for early diagnosis. In fact, diabetics are now sometimes monitored by their health insurance to see if they are getting regular eye exams and premium rates can be affected by how regularly the patients get their eyes checked. Keeping diabetes under control through exercise, diet, medication and regular screenings will help to reduce the chances of vision loss and blindness from diabetes.
If you or a family member suffer from Diabetes, a consultation with one of our Eye Doctors, could be the next step to improving health and quality of life
Questions to Ask Your Eye Care Specialist
Dry eyes can lead to many uncomfortable or painful symptoms that can disturb your daily tasks. For example, driving, reading, and using a computer may become a challenge due to irritated, dry eyes. Because the cause of dry eye syndrome is highly individual, it is essential to undergo a thorough McRay Denton Vision Center eye exam to identify the cause. Once we have the results of your exam, our optometrist will design the most helpful dry eye treatment. Your dry eye therapy may include lid wipes, artificial tears eye drops, heat compresses and Bruder masks, or Restasis eye drops.
Cataracts are a common age-related eye disorder. In fact, statistics estimate that over half of the population in America over age 80 have experienced cataracts or cataract surgery! As you get older, so does the lens structure in your eyes. Sometimes the crystalline fibers of your eye’s lens change and lead to the formation of a cataract, which is a clouding of the lens. Clear images are thereby preventing from appearing on your retina, and blurred vision results.
Glaucoma describes a type of ocular disease that causes damage to your optic nerve and destroys your quality of vision. At McRay Denton Vision Center, we use the latest optometric technology to check your eyes carefully for glaucoma. Glaucoma screening, done with the help of a tonometer, is a significant part of our regular, comprehensive eye exams in Chickasha. With no early symptoms, glaucoma can only be detected by a complete eye examination. When left untreated, glaucoma can result in detrimental vision loss. When treated early by one of our professional, knowledgeable eye doctors, we can help preserve your healthy eyesight.
Macular degeneration is one of the most common causes for blindness in the US among people over 65 years old. Typically, this disease runs in families. Despite its prevalence, there is currently no cure for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). However, there are a number of effective treatment options to slow or stop its progression.
If you have diabetes, you’re probably aware that the disease raises your risk of developing many eye diseases. However, even more significant is the fact that if you have diabetes, eye problems are not inevitable! Diabetes comes in many types, but no matter which type you have – there are real ways for you to protect your eyes from diabetes. Our Chickasha eye doctors share the following information about how diabetes and high blood sugar can affect your eyes, and the preventive actions you can take to keep your vision safe.
LASIK can reduce or eliminate nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. During the procedure, your eye surgeon will direct the cool light of an excimer laser to reshape your cornea. First, a corneal flap will be made on the eye’s surface, which is then peeled back to provide access to the laser. This advanced procedure has exceptional results and safety. The vast majority of our Chickasha patients enjoy sharp and comfortable vision following the surgery.
Myopia Control or nearsightedness appears during the “tween” stage, between 8-12 years old. Throughout teenagehood, it will typically progress, and kids often need a new, stronger prescription for their eyeglasses or contact lenses every year. Many children and their parents are troubled by this deterioration of vision. However, is there anything to do other than continue to buy new eyeglasses? In short, yes. There is myopia control, and our optometrist in Chickasha, OK, has prepared the following explanation of this therapy.