How can diabetes affect my vision?
Diabetes is a chronic condition that causes a buildup of glucose in your blood. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes do not produce or use proper amounts of insulin to adequately process glucose, causing chronically elevated blood sugars.
Especially if blood sugar is not well controlled, diabetes can cause irreparable damage to all systems of the body, including the eyes. Diabetes causes tissues and blood vessels to become brittle, and prone to damage and injury. This can affect the eyes by increasing your risk for:
- Diabetic retinopathy, or damage to the retina
- Diabetic macular edema, a secondary effect of diabetic retinopathy
- Macular degeneration, or damage to the macula and retina
- Cataracts, or a clouding over of the cornea
- Glaucoma, or elevated fluid pressure inside the eye
Having regular, diabetic-specific eye care can help to prevent, diagnose, and maintain eye conditions that could cause impaired vision.
What does diabetic eye care entail?
If you have diabetes, Dr. Smith and Dr. Gdowski recommend you have an eye exam on a yearly basis unless you have signs of progressive eye disease. If you have signs of eye disease, you should get an exam more often.
During your exam, you’ll have the following tests.
- Dilation: Uses a specialized eye drop to visualize the inside of the eye
- Digital retinal photography: Uses digital images to capture structures of the eye
- Eye pressure measurement: Used to measure the pressure inside the eye
- Visual acuity test: Used to identify changes in vision over time
- Visual field: To check for blind spots or decreased peripheral vision
- Refraction: To determine the prescription of corrective lenses
If you show any signs of eye disease, Dr. Smith or Dr. Gdowski may order more tests to evaluate any areas of concern.
What are the signs that I may have eye damage?
During your diabetic eye exam, Dr. Smith or Dr. Gdowski is looking for any changes or signs of eye problems, such as:
- Retinal detachment
- Swelling of the macula
- Fatty deposits on the macula
- Bleeding in or around your retina
- Damage to your optic nerve
- New blood vessel formation
- Changes to your cornea, retina, or lens
Early detection and treatment of these eye changes go a long way in protecting your vision for the long-term.
How can I protect my eyes?
You can do a lot to lower your risks of diabetes-related vision problems, including:
- Keeping control of blood sugar
- Managing high blood pressure
- Managing other chronic diseases
- Keeping regular eye exams
- Dilating eyes yearly, per recommendation
- Quitting smoking and other tobacco use
Most importantly, if you recognize any changes in your vision or eyesight, contact your diabetic eye care specialist at Lifetime Eyecare immediately.
For an evaluation and ongoing diabetic eye care, call 616-457-0760 or request an appointment with Lifetime Eyecare.