What Your Eyes Can Tell You About Diabetes
November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and the doctors at Georgia Eye Institute would like to encourage everyone to schedule an eye exam with diabetic eye screening every year just as you would your primary care physician or dentist.
Having your eyes checked annually is more common among people with glasses or contacts, but even if your eyes are not bothering you, an eye exam can determine signs of possible health problems such as diabetes. The following conditions that can be detected through diabetic eye screening.
If your eye was a camera, then the retina would be the film. The retina translates what the brain sees into images. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the retina’s blood vessels are damaged. If left untreated, it could lead to poor vision and potentially blindness.
You could have had diabetes for years and not know it has already damaged your eyes. The best way to detect diabetic retinopathy is to have a dilated eye exam. Background retinopathy, which is the early stage of diabetic retinopathy, requires no treatment but early detection gives the best prognosis. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can progress to irreversible vision loss.
The macula is the part of your eye that gives you detailed vision. When your retina’s blood vessels leak fluid or blood vessels grow, the macula can eventually become damaged. You should see your doctor before you have trouble reading, recognizing faces, or when figures look distorted. It is common to have diabetic maculopathy in only one eye and not know it because your healthy eye can make up for the difficulties in seeing. Laser surgery is a common treatment for diabetic maculopathy.
Other Conditions Detectable by Eye Exams
Glaucoma can affect people with or without diabetes, but those with diabetes are at higher risk. A high pressure in your eye, which in turn damages the optic nerve, causes glaucoma and vision loss. There are no symptoms.
Another diabetes-related eye complication is retinal detachment. This occurs when the retina pulls away from the blood vessels and deprives the retina of oxygen. This is a late stage of diabetic retinopathy and can lead to blindness even with expert care. Early diagnosis is best.
See your eye doctor annually even if you are without symptoms. When you do experience symptoms, it may already be too late.
For more information or to schedule an eye exam in the Savannah area please contact us or visit our website.
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