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Why You Need a First-Class Eye Doctor on Your Diabetes Care Team

Valley Eye Professionals is pleased to join with medical professionals across the United States in observing November as National Diabetes Month.

Diabetes is a complex metabolic disorder that often requires a team of medical specialists for the comprehensive care you need to manage this increasingly common condition. Along with a multitude of other issues, uncontrolled diabetes can negatively impact your heart health, disrupt kidney function, and cause nerve damage.

Complications from diabetes may also severely impair your vision due to damage it can cause to your retina and other inner eye structures that are vital to your eyesight. Routine eye exams that include detailed studies of your inner eye can catch even subtle changes early, when treatment typically offers the best results. Only an eye doctor has the necessary training and technology required to perform such an exam.

It makes sense, then, that you would want to add an eye care specialist to your diabetic management team. The doctors at Valley Eye Professionals are well-known for their expertise in diabetic eye care and are happy to provide insight regarding diabetes and diabetic eye disease.

What is diabetic eye disease?

Eye diseases linked to diabetes include varying stages of diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and early cataract development.

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the tiny blood vessels that nourish your retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of your eye, are damaged by complications associated with diabetes. When these vessels weaken, bulge, and dilate, blood and other fluids can leak into the surrounding tissue.

This can cause numerous issues with your ability to see, including swelling of the macula, which is a small area in the center of your retina that’s responsible for central vision. As retinopathy progresses, scar tissue may form and block the normal flow of fluid from your eyes, which can lead to glaucoma.

Glaucoma is caused by increased fluid buildup within the eye that can damage the optic nerve, which transmits the images your eyes see to your brain. There are several forms of glaucoma, and many have no symptoms initially other than increased pressure noted on a comprehensive eye exam.

Individuals with diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma than those without diabetes. Like diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma can lead to total vision loss.

Cataracts refer to clouding of your eye’s lens, which is typically crystal clear. When your lens becomes cloudy, it affects the way light focuses on your retina and causes blurred or faded vision. Surgery with a lens implant can correct vision affected by cataracts.

What are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?

Unfortunately, there are few symptoms during the early stages of diabetic retinopathy that would alert you to a potential problem. As the disease progresses, it can cause:

What is involved in a diabetic eye exam?

At Valley Eye Professionals, our diabetic eye exam includes a detailed and very thorough check of everything from your visual acuity, to intraocular pressure levels, to the health of your retina and other vital structures of the inner eye. Despite its thoroughness, the exam is completely painless.

We use the latest and most advanced optometric technology, such as Optos Optomap® imaging and retinal photography, to monitor for changes in your eyes related to diabetes or any other concerning condition.

We generally recommend yearly diabetes eye exams, more often if your primary care physician prefers or if we notice concerning changes that need frequent monitoring. When we catch them early, many effective treatments exist for these serious diabetic complications that can threaten your vision.

If you have diabetes, one of the best things you can do for your overall health is follow your treatment strategy carefully and keep your blood sugar under tight control. One of the best things you can do to protect your vision is to have your eyes checked regularly by a qualified diabetes eye care specialist.

 

Schedule your appointment at Valley Eye Professionals online now, or call our office to book your visit.

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