Did you know that diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of blindness among adults? Did you also know that often times there are no symptoms until the disease is advanced? High blood sugar is the major culprit of eye problems and the longer you live with the disease, the greater the risk. Three major eye problems to be concerned about are cataracts, glaucoma and retinopathy.
A cataract is a clouding in the lens of the eye that is normally clear and affects the clarity of your vision. Anyone can get a cataract, but people with diabetes tend to get them at an earlier age and with progression of the cataract occurring at a faster rate.
Glaucoma is a condition when the fluid inside the eye does not drain properly and leads to an excess of pressure inside the eye. That pressure can damage nerves and blood vessels in the eye causing vision impairment. In people with diabetes there is a higher risk of glaucoma due to high blood sugar.
Retinopathy is damage to small blood vessels or fluid leakage in the eye. Retinopathy is also the leading cause of irreversible blindness. Many studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between high blood sugar and retinopathy.
So what can be done? Is diabetic eye disease inevitable? Thankfully, there are two major things you can do.
The first is controlling your blood sugar which often times requires lifestyle adaptations- easier said than done. An integrated approach of working closely with your primary care physician and/or endocrinologist as well as other specialists is a great start. They can help you understand how diabetes affects your body and what you can do to prevent complications.
The second thing you can do is to make sure you have an eye exam every year. Your optometrist is a key player in your eye health. Diagnosing eye disease right away is crucial to getting early treatment. Your appointment with your optometrist will include taking a medical history and a full eye exam. Here at Watts Eye we pride ourselves on having the most up to date technology. We have the ability to take imaging of your eyes that is non-invasive and only takes seconds. By using our Opto Map machine and Ocular Tomography machine, retinal scans are done within moments, allowing our doctors to see the health of your retinas immediately. Often times our doctors are able to review the results with you as part of your exam.