Why Do You Need an Eye Exam for Diabetes?

by Nov 21, 2022

Diabetes is one of the most common chronic medical conditions in the United States. It is recommended that anyone with diabetes have a yearly eye exam that includes a dilation. While it is important for anyone to have routine eye health exams, for those with diabetes it is even more paramount given the risks of loss of vision and blindness from complications associated with diabetes.

Types of Diabetes and the Eyes

Both type one and type two diabetes can affect the eyes.

Among the biggest factors in determining whether there will be any complications from diabetes is the length of time that the individual has had diabetes.

Since the time of the condition is a major factor, typically type one diabetics will have complications at a younger age than type two, but both are susceptible to having eye problems.


Concerns for Eye Health with Diabetes

Diabetes increases the risk for a number of eye conditions including cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and retinal detachment.

Other conditions can have an increased prevalence in the diabetic population including glaucoma and macular degeneration.


Cataracts from Diabetes

Diabetes increases the risk for multiple types of cataracts and is one of the leading causes of having cataracts at a young age.

These cataracts may be posterior subcapsular cataracts (PSC), snowflake cataracts, or early nuclear sclerotic cataracts.

The most visually impairing cataracts are the posterior subcapsular cataracts. These form in the center of the line of sight and can develop quickly.

The posterior subcapsular cataracts may also be heavily asymmetric and have one eye that is much more severe than the other.


Diabetic Retinopathy from Diabetes

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that describes changes to the back of the eye and the blood vessels in the retina.

These changes can include bleeding, leaky blood vessels, fat buildup, or areas of oxygen deprivation and tissue death.

In the US, diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness and is a major concern for eye doctors.

A dilated eye exam is important to allow the doctor to view the entire retina and examine for any early signs of diabetic retinopathy.

In the early stages, diabetic retinopathy can be managed by lowering blood sugar and monitoring for resolution.

In more severe or advanced stages, diabetic retinopathy can require laser surgery or injections into the eye.


Retinal Detachment from Diabetes

A retinal detachment occurs when the retina becomes separated from the tissue layers under it.

This causes a total loss of vision in the area of the retina that is detached.

If there is proliferative and uncontrolled diabetic retinopathy, it can lead to a tractional retinal detachment.

A retinal detachment is an emergency and requires surgery within a day or two in order to preserve the vision in the eye.


Importance of Annual Exams

For anyone with diabetes, there are many elevated risks for eye disease and developing vision loss.

To reduce the risk and ensure that any changes are caught early, all diabetic patients should have a dilated eye exam each year.


Our eye doctor at Brooklyn Eye Care excels in the prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye problems such as diabetes eye complications. Call our optometrist at (763) 999-6116 to schedule your appointment today. Our eye doctor, Dr. Vivian Ekemezie provides the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in the Brooklyn Park, MN area. 


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