1705 Park Street ●  Regina, SK.  ●  S4N 2G3

Phone: 306-719-2020 ●  Fax: 306-719-2021

DIABETES AWARENESS BLOG

Diabetic eye exam

DIABETES AWARENESS BLOG

Who knew you could tell so much about the body by looking at the health of the eyes?  In particular, one of the most common systemic diseases that can affect the eyes is diabetes.  According to Statistics Canada, over 2 million people across the country have been diagnosed with diabetes and this number continues to rise1. Individuals with diabetes, both type 1 and type 2, are recommended to have at least one dilated eye exam per year to check for any changes inside the eye. 

 

Diabetic Eye Changes

 

Diabetic retinopathy occurs secondary to an inflammatory process in which the blood vessels become damaged and begin to leak blood and lipids.  The best way to prevent this from occurring is maintaining a steady and normal blood sugar level.  When blood sugar levels rise, this causes the damage in the vessels.  As the blood vessels become damaged, the tissue inside the eye called the retina becomes deprived of oxygen.  Sometimes, the body will try to compensate and new, weak blood vessels will begin to grow.  Unfortunately, these vessels end up leaking and pulling on the retina leading to more serious complications and permanent vision loss.

 

Diabetic macular edema occurs when there is swelling and fluid underneath the macula, which is the area of the retina that is responsible for central vision.  When this occurs, vision may become blurry and distorted.  Sometimes, diabetic macular edema is asymptomatic in its initial stares.  When diabetic macular edema is detected, prompt treatment and referral to an ophthalmologist is required.

 

Why Dilation? 

 

Dilation is the standard of care when it comes to monitoring ocular health.  The reason is that examining the eye through a dilated pupil gives the doctor the best view inside the eye.

 

When you receive a dilated eye exam, you can expect some visual changes that last about 2 hours.  First, because the pupil is dilated, it can make you more light sensitive so wearing sunglasses, especially on very sunny days, is recommended.  Additionally, the dilation drops relax the muscles responsible for your focusing system so vision can be blurry, especially near vision.

 

Diabetic Eye Emergencies

 

In addition to an annual diabetic eye exam, patients should make an appointment promptly if they experience changes to their vision including blurred vision, floating spots, flashes of light and/or other visual disturbances.

 

Diabetes puts patients at risk for secondary complications including more rapid development of cataracts and glaucoma.  In fact, having diabetes doubles your risk for the development of glaucoma.

 

Get Your Eyes Examined Today!

 

If you or a loved one has diabetes, be sure to get your annual dilated eye exam by calling 306-719-2020 and telling the office that you are calling to book a diabetic eye exam.  In Saskatchewan, there is medical coverage for a diabetic eye exam once per year.  Since there are various levels of diabetic retinopathy, you may be recommended for more frequent evaluations. 

 

There are a few things that you can do as a diabetic to decrease your risk of diabetic eye disease including tight control of blood glucose and high blood pressure through healthy lifestyle changes (diet/exercise) and compliance with medications.

 

 

 

For more information on diabetes, visit the National Eye Institute’s website at: 

 https://nei.nih.gov/health/diabetic/retinopathy

 

References:

  1. Stats Canada: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/health53a-eng.htm

  2. NEI: https://nei.nih.gov/nehep/NDM

1705 Park Street ●  Regina, SK.  ●  S4N 2G3

Phone: 306-719-2020 ●  Fax: 306-719-2021