Diabetic Eye Exams
Diabetes doesn’t just wreak havoc with blood sugar levels – it can cause serious, irreversible vision loss. A person may not even be aware they have diabetes until retinal damage is identified during an eye exam.
At Loudoun Eye Care, we regularly perform comprehensive diabetic eye exams targeted toward monitoring the health of those with diabetes, or those who are believed to have diabetic retinopathy. The key to being able to assess your retinal health is including dilation in your eye exam.
What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. You may not even be aware you have the disease because it presents few to no symptoms at first.
The earliest stages of the disease is known as background retinopathy. Elevated blood sugar levels damage blood vessels within the retina (at the back of your eye), causing blood or other fluid to leak into your eye. This irritates the eye and can cause swelling. When swelling occurs in the macula (the center of the retina), it is called macular edema, which can lead to disruption in your central field of vision.
Left untreated, diabetic retinopathy will continue to worsen over time and can permanently damage your vision. The advanced form of the disease is called proliferative retinopathy, which is severe and vision-threatening.
Damaged blood vessels in the retina decrease the flow of oxygenated blood to the eye. With insufficient oxygen, the retina will attempt to grow new blood vessels to replace the damaged ones in a process called neovascularization. Unfortunately, these new blood vessels are weak and bleed easily (vitreous hemorrhage). Scar tissue may form that can distort the retina and may even cause the retina to detach.
Benefits of Diabetic Eye Exam
In addition to monitoring the health of your retina, a diabetic eye exam can help identify other problems also associated with diabetes. For example, if you have diabetes, you are nearly twice as likely as a nondiabetic person to develop glaucoma or cataracts.
Eye dilation is a critical component of a diabetic eye exam. This is because once your pupils are dilated, your ophthalmologist will be able to more clearly see the back of your eye and assess the health of your retina.
For all of these reasons, it is vitally important that anyone with diabetes have an annual eye exam. If you’re diabetic and experiencing vision problems, it’s critical you see an ophthalmologist right away.
If you are diabetic or suspect you may be, let us help you safeguard the long-term health of your eyes with regular diabetic eye exams. Contact Loudoun Eye Care in Ashburn, Virginia, by calling (703) 723-8988 today or request your appointment now.