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Home » A Guide to the What, Why, and When of Diabetic Eye Examinations

A Guide to the What, Why, and When of Diabetic Eye Examinations

Diabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels are abnormally high because the body is unable to create or respond to insulin resulting in excess sugar in the bloodstream. Someone with diabetes has a 20x higher risk of suffering from vision loss. If you have diabetes or live with someone who has it, you may want to familiarize yourself with a guide to the what, why, and when of diabetic eye examinations.

Woman getting an eye exam

What Are Diabetic Eye Exams?

A comprehensive dilated eye exam consists of a number of tests to carefully examine your vision and the back of the eye. The optic nerve, retina, and all the blood vessels in the back of the eye are examined to look for any health problems.

Additional tests performed during the examination include:

Glaucoma Test

A puff of air is shot into the eye to check the pressure in the eye, known as intraocular pressure. This will monitor any changes and is a critical test, as this condition has no symptoms until it is too late and vision is already lost

Digital Retinal Exam

This is a non-invasive test to produce a high resolution color image of the back of the eye including the optic nerve, blood vessels, and retina. Dr. Lisa Mihora keeps these digital images so there can be comparisons with each subsequent visit that might indicate an eye disease.

Optical Coherence Tomography

An OCT scan is a more in-depth view of the retina. It produces a 3D color coded cross section image of the back of the eye. It examines the thickness of the retina or leaking fluid, and if there are any abnormalities in the optic nerve.

The Value of a Diabetic Eye Exam: The Why

Diabetic Retinopathy Detection

A diabetic eye exam can detect the most serious eye disease, diabetic retinopathy. It is the number one cause of vision loss among diabetics. In fact, over 8 million Americans mostly over age 40 have diabetic retinopathy. 

With diabetic retinopathy, large concentrations of sugar build up in the bloodstream causes weakness in the retina. These blood vessels can leak fluid into the retina leading to blurry vision and even vision loss. 

If caught early, diabetic retinopathy can be successfully treated.

Macular Edema Detection

Another common eye disease is macular edema. When blood vessels leak fluid into the macula in the center of the retina, it causes swelling and central vision loss. When caught early, this can also be successfully treated.

Other Reasons to Schedule a Diabetic Eye Exam

Diabetics are also susceptible to early cataracts which progresses quickly instead of gradually.

Diabetes doubles a person’s risk for glaucoma.

Regular Diabetic Eye Exams: The When

Anyone with diabetes should schedule an annual eye exam. Skipping them can allow the above conditions and diseases to be undetected until it’s too late. Unfortunately many people do skip these invaluable exams. 

Patients with type 2 diabetes should schedule an exam immediately after being diagnosed. There may be years of undetected conditions that need immediate treatment.

Patients with type 1 diabetes should have an eye exam within five years of diagnosis.

A pregnant woman with diabetes should schedule an eye exam during the first 3 months of pregnancy and then one year postpartum.

Early detection of these diabetic eye conditions can save your vision.

Contact Dr. Lisa Mihora at Oculoplastic Eye Surgeons Of Phoenix at (623) 522-8687 to schedule your diabetic eye exam in Phoenix today.

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