Did you know that nearly 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes? That’s more than 37 million people. People with diabetes are at an increased risk for other health complications, including issues that can impact their eyes and their vision.
If you are one of the millions that have diabetes, it is important that you get regular diabetic eye exams. Here, the experienced eye doctors at Vista Eye Specialists explain why diabetic eye exams are essential for your overall health and vision.
What Is a Diabetic Eye Exam?
A diabetic eye exam is similar to a routine eye exam. During both exams, the eye doctor will inquire about your vision and health history and check your vision using a vision acuity test. The eye doctor will also determine whether additional tests may be necessary based on your health history and needs.
During a diabetic eye exam, the eye doctor will consider your diabetes when deciding what additional tests to perform. Diabetes puts you at an increased risk for developing diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts. A diabetic eye exam will look for signs of those conditions.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication that occurs from diabetes. It impacts vision and is one of the leading causes of blindness for adults in the United States. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the blood vessels in the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (the retina) are damaged. Early on, patients may have no symptoms or very mild symptoms. As the disease progresses, it can cause floaters, blurred vision, cloudy vision and blind spots. If left untreated, it can lead to blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy can also cause other issues including macular edema. Macular edema occurs when fluid builds up in the macula (the area in the center of the retina). This can also impact central and detail vision.
The eye doctors at Vista Eye Specialists have the knowledge and experience necessary to check for diabetic retinopathy through a comprehensive diabetic eye exam. During the exam, the doctor will dilate your pupils to see the back of your eyes. The doctor will examine your retina, the blood vessels in the retina and the optic nerve (which is responsible for transmitting visual information from the eye to the brain).
Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. Having diabetes greatly increases your risk for glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, which is located in the back of your eye. Initially, glaucoma often has no symptoms. Without a glaucoma eye exam, the disease can progress undetected and lead to blindness. Early detection is crucial to controlling its progression and preventing serious vision loss.
Diabetes also increases your risk of developing cataracts. Normally, the lens located at the front of your eye is clear. This lens is responsible for focusing light for clear vision. Cataracts are a clouding of the lens that can occur over time.
Your eye doctor can test for cataracts and, if necessary, determine whether cataract surgery is appropriate. The good news for patients is that cataracts are very treatable with an outpatient surgical procedure.
Schedule Your Diabetic Eye Exam at Vista Eye Specialists
The eye doctors at Vista Eye Specialists offer comprehensive diabetic eye exams for new and existing patients in Fredericksburg and Culpeper, Virginia. Schedule your comprehensive diabetic eye exam today.