Visiting the eye doctor at least once a year is an important part of self-care when you have diabetes. You may wonder why this is necessary, especially if you have no apparent vision problems. The reason is that just having diabetes increases your risk of developing serious conditions such as diabetic retinopathy. Unfortunately, it is common with some eye diseases for symptoms not to appear until the condition is quite advanced. Visiting the eye doctor annually is the best way to detect symptoms of eye disease and start managing the condition as soon as possible.
Understanding Diabetic Retinopathy
This condition develops when high glucose levels present in the body cause damage to the blood vessels of the retina of the eye. Untreated diabetic retinopathy can cause severe vision loss or even blindness. That is because the vessels form on the retina itself and impede the normal flow of blood.
You may mistake diabetic retinopathy in the early stages as just having unusually watery eyes and not think too much about the gel-like discharge. This occurs when the blood vessels form small bulges and these leak inside of the retina of the eye. The disease has a progressive impact on vision, starting with mild vision impairment and potentially leading up to a total loss of vision. Some of the other symptoms you could experience include:
- Flashes of light or floaters in your line of vision
- Eye pain
- Blurry or distorted vision that leads to difficulty with reading
Seeing an Eye Doctor with Knowledge of Diabetes
You can continue to see your regular eye doctor after you receive a diagnosis of diabetes. All eye doctors have education in how the disease of diabetes can affect the eye and any potential vision issues it may cause. However, if your condition is more advanced, your eye doctor will refer you to an ophthalmologist if he or she detects any problems with the blood vessels in your eyes.
What to Expect with the Diabetic Retinopathy Exam
The first thing you will do at your eye exam is read a chart of letters that are all of different sizes. You will do this from across the room at a distance of approximately 20 feet. Next, the optometrist will place drops in your eyes to help dilate them. It may sting slightly for a few seconds but that sensation will quickly go away. The dilation is necessary to help the doctor see the back of your eyes by using an optometric magnifying glass that contains a bright light.
In addition to blood vessels in the back of your eyes, your eye doctor is looking for problems with the front and middle of your eyes as well as the optic nerve area. Your doctor uses something called a slit lamp to see the cornea of your eyes and also uses a special camera to take photos of the backs of your eyes.
New Vision Eye Center is a world class eye care clinic located in Vero Beach, Florida. Please contact us online with any questions or call 772-257-8700.