Do you or someone you care about have diabetes? November is National Diabetes Month, an important reminder that comprehensive eye examinations are an important part of diabetic care as those with diabetes can have changes in their eyes and not even know it!
How Diabetes Affects Your Eyes
Diabetes can affect your entire body, especially your eyes. Most diabetic eye changes occur without any signs or symptoms to the patient. It often starts weakening of small blood vessels on the retina, the light-sensing layer on the inside of the back of the eye. As the changes progress, they can actually cause blood vessel to rupture and leak blood into the eye. The diabetic damage can eventually cause permanent vision loss.
Usually, diabetic retinopathy has no symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage. However, diabetic eye changes can be picked up early during a comprehensive eye examination. It examines the front and back of your eyes. It consists of an eye doctor putting drops to dilate (widen) the pupil of the eye, giving a better look at the retina to look for damage from diabetes or other problems.
Unfortunately, only about 60% of people with diabetes get comprehensive eye exams as often as they should. That’s a concerning statistic! Diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of vision loss among working-age adults in the United States.
There is good news! It is estimated that 95% of the time severe vision loss from diabetes could be prevented with early evaluation and treatment. There are multiple effective treatment options including laser procedure.
If you have diabetes, remember to get a comprehensive eye examination at least once per year, even if you are not experiencing any problems with your eyes. Also, control your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol as by doing so, you will greatly reduce your risk of diabetic eye disease.
Preventing Diabetic Eye Disease
Here are the steps one can take to help prevent diabetic eye disease:
- Watching your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
- Getting a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year or more often as recommended by your eye doctor.
- Women with diabetes should get a comprehensive eye exam prior and early in their pregnancy.
- Keeping a healthy lifestyle and a healthy diet.
How Southwest Eye Institute Can Help
To help contribute to better eye diabetic care, especially during this national month of diabetic eye disease awareness, the Southwest Eye Institute has appointments available to examine those with diabetes who have not had a dilated eye examination in more than a year or sooner if advised by their doctor. Call (915) 267-2020 to schedule a consultation with one of our eye specialists. The Southwest Eye Institute is El Paso’s largest and most comprehensive eye doctor group.