Diabetes is a disorder in which the body does not produce enough or respond normally to insulin, causing blood sugar (glucose) levels to be abnormally high. A diabetic eye exam is designed to check for eye problems caused by diabetes, such as diabetic retinopathy.
If you have diabetes, it is recommended that you have a diabetic eye exam at least once a year in order to detect problems before they affect your sight.
The information obtained from your eye exam will also help the physician managing your diabetes. Because the eye will show visible changes before damage may be detectable in other bodily systems, exam information is often used to shape diabetes treatments to prevent further damage.
What is diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that occurs in those with diabetes when high blood sugar levels cause damage to blood vessels in the retina. These blood vessels can swell and leak, or close and stop blood from passing through. Sometimes abnormal new blood vessels grow on the retina. All of these changes are serious sight-threatening complications.
Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, some have no symptoms at all. As it progresses, you may experience:
- Spots or dark strings floating in your vision (floaters)
- Blurred vision
- Fluctuating vision
- Impaired color vision
- Dark or empty areas in your vision
- Vision loss
Treatments for Diabetic Retinopathy
The easiest way to prevent diabetic retinopathy damage is to control your blood sugar. This keeps your eye's blood vessels healthy and may sometimes even restore some of the vision lost due to diabetic retinopathy.
If treatment is needed for diabetic retinopathy, an injection which may slow and perhaps improve vision could be recommended. If the disease has progressed to an advanced stage, our surgeons may recommend one of several possible procedures, including laser surgery to treat abnormal or leaking blood vessels in the retina.