If You Have Diabetes, You Need a Different Kind of Eye Exam
Certain medical conditions have a far reach in the body. Diabetes is one of them. Research has linked several risks to the continual elevation of blood glucose levels. Many of the secondary concerns related to diabetes involve the effect that too much glucose has on the walls of the veins throughout the body.
As you may know, the eyes have a complex network of tiny blood vessels. Because these vessels are so small and delicate, they are susceptible to the weakening that diabetes can cause. For this reason, people who have been diagnosed with diabetes are strongly encouraged to undergo a thorough diabetic eye exam as recommended by their physician.
Diabetic eye conditions that are concerning include general blurriness and a significant increase in the risk of glaucoma, cataracts, and retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a direct result of chronically high blood sugar. Over time, the deterioration of blood vessels in the eye leads to fluid seeping into the ocular structure. The retina is a vital part of the eye, located at the back wall adjacent to the optic nerve. The retina is responsible for passing light to the optic nerve so it can be transmitted to the brain. When fluid continually leaks from ocular blood vessels and onto the retina, damage occurs little by little. Without detection and proper treatment, diabetic retinopathy can cause vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy is reportedly one of the leading causes of blindness. What we want our patients to know is that they have some degree of control over this risk. Clinical practice has demonstrated a high rate of success in the management of diabetic retinopathy when treatment is conducted early. Diabetic eye exams assist in this goal.
What is Involved in a Diabetic Eye Exam?
One of the primary differences between a routine eye exam and a diabetic eye exam is the inclusion of special tests that observe the retina, blood vessels, optic nerve, and other structures. These include:
- Retinal photography using a special digital camera
- Fluorescein Angiography is a special form of imaging that involves an injection of dye into the arm. The dye travels to the blood vessels of the eye, which are then observed with a special digital camera.
- Ocular Coherence Tomography is a noninvasive type of imaging that observes the retina in real time, providing immediate results.