Optometrist, Darrell Baker, chats about the changes that can occur to the eyes due to diabetes and the importance of regular eye exams for diabetics.
HOW CAN AN EYE EXAM HELP DETECT THE EARLY STAGES OF DIABETES?
Comprehensive eye examinations involve an inspection of the retina using digital imaging and/or microscopic inspection, as certain changes noted in the retina might indicate the early onset of diabetes. This might be confirmed by a rapid or unusual change in the vision and optical power of the eye.
HOW CAN DIABETES AFFECT THE HEALTH OF YOUR EYES AND VISION?
To put this in context, diabetes is the second leading cause of blindness in people aged 40 and over, so it has serious and significant implications on eye health and vision. In saying that, those most at risk are long-term insulin-dependent diabetics, but any person with either form of the disease has a risk of damage to the retina. This can occur as a result of bleeding or leakage from the very small blood vessels in the retina, and if these changes occur undetected in the macula (central part) of the retina, it could cause permanent central vision loss. Diabetics are also more likely to develop cataracts, along with various other eye conditions.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT FOR THOSE DIAGNOSED WITH DIABETES TO HAVE REGULAR EYE EXAMS?
As well as the risk of damage to the retina, fluctuating blood sugar levels can affect the optical power (refraction) of the eye, causing temporary and fluctuating visual changes. Diabetes can also affect the healing properties of the eye, and would make diabetics more likely to be contract certain eye infections, as well as inhibiting the healing rate from those infections, operations or minor injuries.