Diabetes can affect just about your entire body, and your eyes are no exception. To help make living with diabetes a bit easier, board-certified optometrist Edward Scarbrough, OD, at Scarbrough Family Eyecare in Beulah and Traverse City, Michigan, diagnoses and treats diabetes-related health conditions, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts. Diabetic eye disease is preventable, but it’s important to know your risks and manage your diabetes and eye health. To schedule a diabetic eye checkup, call or click today.
You may not think of eye care as a necessary part of your health routine if you can see clearly without glasses and you don’t have any bothersome eye symptoms. However, eye care is especially important if you have diabetes. The disease increases your risk of developing serious eye conditions that can result in partial or complete vision loss.
The primary eye health risk for people with diabetes is diabetic retinopathy. This condition results from damaged blood vessels in your retina, the light-sensing innermost layer in your eye. You’re more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy if your blood sugar isn’t stabilized, and your risk increases the longer you have diabetes.
In addition to diabetic retinopathy, diabetes puts you at higher risk of developing glaucoma and cataracts.
The best way to prevent diabetic eye complications is to get an annual checkup, so your Scarbrough Family Eyecare provider can diagnose any conditions before they become serious. Many eye conditions, including diabetic retinopathy, cause mild or no symptoms in their early stages. Often, more serious symptoms are a sign of irreversible damage to your vision.
Your diabetic eye checkup includes a comprehensive eye exam. Your optometrist tests your vision and screens for glaucoma and cataracts. They also ask about your diabetes history, including when you were diagnosed, what medications you take, the results of recent blood sugar and A1C tests, and any related symptoms you experience.
To screen for diabetic retinopathy, your optometrist dilates your pupils using eye drops. This allows them to look at your retinas for changes or abnormalities.
If you show signs of diabetic retinopathy, you’re referred to an ophthalmologist. Your treatment for diabetic retinopathy depends on whether you have the nonproliferative (early) or proliferative (advanced) form of the disease:
Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy usually doesn’t require immediate treatment or cause symptoms. Nonetheless, it’s important to keep your blood sugar under control and monitor the condition of your eyes. If you manage your diabetes, you can usually slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy means that abnormal blood vessels have formed in your retina to replace the damaged blood vessels. You need immediate treatment if you have this stage of the disease to prevent serious complications, including retinal detachment, glaucoma, and eventually, blindness. This may include photocoagulation, a laser procedure to shrink abnormal blood vessels and prevent them from leaking.
Like other complications of diabetes, you can usually prevent retinopathy by keeping your blood sugar under control.
To schedule a diabetic eye checkup at Scarbrough Family Eyecare, call or use the online booking tool today.