Avon Vision Associates 860-677-6444
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People with diabetes need special eye health and vision care, as they have an increased risk of developing serious eye diseases, some of which have no symptoms in the early stages. The expert doctors at Avon Vision Associates or New Hartford Eye Associates will perform tests as part of your diabetic eye exam to screen for signs of diabetic eye disease.
What is diabetic eye disease?
Diabetes can affect the eyes when blood sugar is too high and damages the blood vessels in the back of the eyes, which may leak fluid or cause swelling. Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of diseases that can affect people with diabetes, including diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, diabetic macular edema, and glaucoma. While anyone with diabetes can develop diabetic eye disease, the risk increases if blood sugar levels and/or blood pressure levels aren’t controlled.
The most common cause of vision loss and blindness in people with diabetes is diabetic retinopathy. It affects the blood vessels in the retina, which is the light-sensitive layer in the back of the eye.
In the early stages, there may not be any obvious symptoms. However, as it progresses, blood vessels start to bleed into the vitreous, which is the gel-like fluid that fills the eye, and then dark, floating spots or streaks may appear in your vision. The risk of developing diabetic retinopathy increases the longer you have diabetes. Women with diabetes who get pregnant or develop diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes) are also at high risk to develop diabetic retinopathy, so if you are pregnant and have diabetes, you need a diabetic eye exam as soon as possible.
Cataracts are a common occurrence as people get older but can happen to people who have diabetes at an earlier age than people without diabetes. Cataracts cause the front part of the eye to become cloudy, causing blurry or hazy vision, reduced night vision, and increased sensitivity to light. Over time, cataracts can lead to vision loss.
Diabetic macular edema
Diabetic macular edema is characterized by a build-up of fluid and swelling in the macula, which is the part of the retina used to see clearly while driving, reading, and seeing faces. This disease can damage central vision.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve. This disease is sometimes called “the silent thief of sight” because it can begin with little to no pain or symptoms, and the only way to catch it early on is through regular comprehensive eye exams. Diabetics have an increased risk of developing glaucoma.
Diagnosing diabetic eye disease
The doctors at Avon Vision Associates and New Hartford Eye Associates use their expertise and advanced diagnostic technology to screen for and diagnose diabetic eye disease. Your doctor will dilate your eyes to thoroughly examine the structures of your eyes and may use OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography) to examine what is happening to the blood vessels in the retina.
Preventing diabetic eye disease
Scheduling regular diabetic eye exams is key to preventing damage from diabetic eye disease. Take your medication as prescribed by your primary care doctor and talk to them about the best ways for you to keep your blood sugar levels under control, which should include changes in your diet and regular exercise. Uncontrolled, high blood sugar levels will damage the blood vessels in your retina and lead to serious damage to your vision.