Diabetic Eye Care
If you are diabetic, your body does not use or store sugar properly. High blood sugar levels can damage the delicate blood vessels in the retina (the nerve layer in the back of the eye). When this damage is present, it is known as diabetic retinopathy.
Who is at risk for diabetic retinopathy?
All people with diabetes-both type 1 and type 2–are at risk. That’s why everyone with diabetes should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. The longer someone has diabetes, the more likely he or she will get diabetic retinopathy. Between 40 to 45 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some stage of diabetic retinopathy. If you have diabetic retinopathy, your doctor can recommend treatment to help prevent its progression.
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. If you have diabetic retinopathy, at first you may not notice changes to your vision. But over time, diabetic retinopathy can get worse and cause vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes.
How is diabetic retinopathy diagnosed?
A medical examination is the best way to detect early changes. Our doctors can diagnose diabetic retinopathy before you are aware of any vision problems. During the exam, your eyes are dilated, and examined with special equipment and lenses. Special tests may be ordered if changes are suspected or present. In some cases, you may be asked to see a specialist in diabetic retinopathy.
What can you do to prevent diabetic retinopathy?
The best treatment is to prevent the development of retinopathy. Strict blood sugar control significantly reduces the long-term risk of vision loss from diabetes. Annual dilated examination with an ophthalmologist is an important step in the over-all management of diabetes and the prevention of visual complications. More frequent visits may be necessary if complications develop.
It is important for patients with diabetes to have dilated eye exams once a year to detect any signs of diabetic eye disease.