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Archive for November, 2016

Diabetic Retinopathy: The Importance of Regular Eye Exams

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 @ 12:11 AM
Author: Amit Mathur

If you have diabetes, you are at a greater risk of various sight issues and eye-related conditions that could cause partial or total loss of vision. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness among adults and one of the most common is Diabetic Retinopathy.

What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic Retinopathy is a condition that people with diabetes can suffer when their level of blood sugar is above a certain level for a long period of time. The blood sugar blocks the blood vessels that maintain your retinas’ health, and when your body tries to make new blood vessels they’re not as strong. Eventually your retinas weaken and get damaged enough that you go completely blind.

Early symptoms include:

  • Decreased central vision—you’ll notice it when you are reading or driving
  • Inability to see colours as clearly or at all
  • General blurry vision
  • Holes or black spots in your vision

If you have diabetes and experience any of these symptoms you should immediately see your doctor. They will run some tests and book you for a special eye exam, but it is also advisable to have regular eye exams done by an optometrist.

Why Is Regular Testing Important?

People who have diabetes in any form are strongly recommended to have annual dilated retina exams. These are not conducted at your usual check up every year, but is a more thorough test performed by a specialist to check for early signs of Diabetic Retinopathy. The reason why it is recommended is because early diagnosis and treatment can help you avoid loss of vision.

Eye doctors and specialists recommend you have these exams every one or two years depending on factors:

  • The type of diabetes you have (type 1 or 2)
  • How long you’ve had diabetes
  • How often your blood sugar levels change
  • How well controlled your blood sugar levels are

In general, the longer you live with diabetes and the more severe your type is, the more likely you are to develop Diabetic Retinopathy. Regular eye exams can also help spot, diagnose and treat other eye conditions diabetic people are prone to such as glaucoma or Diabetic macular edema.

How Can I Protect Myself?

If you want to know what you can do on your own to keep your eyes healthy and avoid Diabetic Retinopathy, there are a number of things you can do:

  • Maintain good blood sugar levels with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and insulin use
  • Maintain good blood pressure since Retinopathy is more likely to develop if you have high levels
  • Have regular eye exams from your specialist to spot early symptoms
  • Check with an ophthalmologist if you experience any eye pain or changes in your vision

You can also avoid things that are likely to exacerbate things like blood vessel health and blood pressure levels, such as smoking, weight lifting, or contact sports. Regular exercise is important, however, as they help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Make sure you consult with your doctor to figure out a safe exercise regimen.