The Connection Between Eye Health & Diabetes
1 in 10 people in the United States today are diabetic. More staggering still, is that 20% of those with diabetes don’t know that they have it. You may be thinking, ‘What does diabetes have to do with my vision?’ and the answer is – potentially quite a lot.
Diabetes and the Eye
Diabetes affects all of the blood vessels in the body, from the largest in our hearts to the very smallest in our eyes. Much like a car that needs oil in its system to run smoothly, the blood vessels in our eyes need proper blood flow to receive oxygen and stay healthy. When this flow is restricted, it can cause leaks, bruising, and even for an eye to shut down.
Detection and Diagnosis
It’s possible to feel and look perfectly fine and still be pre-diabetic or have diabetes. In such cases, it’s natural to experience some resistance or denial toward the idea even when advised of the likelihood by your physician. Should your A1C readings be on the rise or inconclusive, you may be referred to an eye doctor for an exam–and the eye doesn’t lie. Through a dilated eye exam and using a wide-field laser scan, we’re able to confirm pre-diabetes or diabetes by detecting hemorrhaging at the back of the eye.
Of all the prescriptions you expected from your eye doctor, lifestyle changes that include a healthy diet and moderate exercise probably weren’t among them. However, this is the primary way to improve your overall health and diabetes related vision issues.
When caught early, we’ll coordinate care with your physician to treat any ocular issues that may have developed as a result of diabetes or pre-diabetes. We’ll analyze if there are any changes that need to be made due to diabetic issues, and if so, will schedule ongoing visits until symptoms dissipate.
If vision issues have advanced toward ocular diabetic retinopathy, we’ll refer you to a retinal specialist for further ocular treatment. Unfortunately, in these cases, a retinal specialist will work to help you maintain the vision you have rather than recovering any vision loss.
For people ages 30 and older, yearly physical exams are recommended. Your physician will measure your A1C and be on the lookout for changes that could indicate prediabetes. Outside of yearly screenings, ultimately, the best form of prevention for diabetes related vision issues is a lifestyle consisting of healthy eating and moderate exercise.
If your physician has referred you or if you’d like to schedule a preventative screening with Genstler Eye Center, call (785) 273-8080 to schedule an appointment.
See related – Common Treatments & Conditions