As a diabetic, you already know that in diabetes your body is unable to use and store glucose to perform various bodily functions properly. As a result, this glucose, a form of sugar, accumulates in your bloodstream and causes your blood sugar levels to rise to higher than normal levels.
This can cause many complications throughout the body, especially in the eyes.
According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetics must do comprehensive dilated eye examination once a year to minimize the risk of diabetes-related eye conditions going undetected and untreated.
What is diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common eye disease for people with diabetes. It is a serious sight-threatening complication of diabetes. It occurs when the small blood vessels in the eye are damaged by high levels of glucose in the blood, resulting in leaking blood and other fluids. This leaking causes the retinal tissue to swell, resulting in cloudy or blurred vision. This condition usually affects both eyes. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely he will develop diabetic retinopathy. Although there are a variety of treatments to treat diabetic retinopathy, the earlier it is diagnosed, the more effective the treatment. But if left untreated, it can cause blindness.
What is the procedure of comprehensive dilated eye examination?
As you already know that diabetes-related conditions show no symptoms until significant damage has already been done, early detection is essential. Early detection of diabetes-related eye conditions is most advantageous for people who follow their eye doctor’s recommendation to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam once a year.
The procedure of dilated eye exam is very thorough and may take up to 2 hours. Your eye doctor dilates your eyes so that the pupils are enlarged, allowing him a wider window through which to inspect the retina for signs of retinopathy and other eye damage that could be caused by your diabetes.
The comprehensive exam also includes a tonometry test, in which a quick puff of air is blown into your eyes or a pressure-sensitive tip is gently placed against it. This measures your internal eye fluid pressure. If your doctor detects that your internal eye fluid pressure is higher than normal, this may be an indication of glaucoma, another eye disease that damages your eye’s optic nerve, gradually resulting in the permanent loss of vision.
No portions of the eye exam are painful, but when you have your pupils dilated, you should be prepared to wear sunglasses for some time after the appointment as you will be sensitive to light.
To avoid the risk of blindness and increase your chances of preserving sight, I strongly recommend you to take a three-pronged approach to keep your vision:
- Maintain your HgA1C and blood glucose levels.
- Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in check.
- Make sure you get your eyes checked annually through a dilated eye exam.
So, take charge of your eye health appropriately and ensure that an annual dilated eye exam is part of your comprehensive type 2 diabetes treatment plan.
Beware of these eye symptoms
Although it is recommended to visit your eye doctor once a year for an annual check-up, there are some signs that you need to keep an eye out for that indicate that you should not wait for your annual appointment before seeing your eye doctor. These symptoms are:
- Your vision becomes blurry
- You are seeing double objects, spots or floaters
- You are having a dark or empty spot in the center of your vision
- One or both of your eyes hurt
- You feel difficulty seeing well at night
- Your eyes get red and stay that way for a longer period, means you feel pressure in your eyes
If anyone of these symptoms occurs and stays long, it is highly recommended to consult your eye doctor immediately because these can also be symptoms of an underlying eye problem related to your diabetes.
I would love to hear from you if you have any feedback or experiences during your comprehensive dilated eye examination. Simply drop a comment below and I will be sure to get back to you.