Why Are Annual Diabetic Eye Exams Critical for Individuals with Diabetes?

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If you're living with diabetes, you have more than just your blood sugar to consider. Diabetes can significantly affect your ocular health, leading to conditions like diabetic retinopathy, which is why annual diabetic eye exams are not only recommended but critical for maintaining healthy vision. At inVision Ophthalmology Birmingham, our dedicated team of ophthalmologists in Birmingham, AL offers specialized care for diabetic patients.

What do you look for in a diabetic eye exam?

A diabetic eye exam goes beyond the scope of a standard vision check. It is a comprehensive eye exam that assesses not just your vision but also the health of your eyes, looking for signs of diabetic eye diseases. During your visit to inVision Ophthalmology Birmingham, our team will meticulously examine the back of your eyes, focusing on the retina and blood vessels, using specialized equipment. In particular, we look for early signs of diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma, among other concerns. The goal is to identify any changes or damages caused by fluctuating blood sugar levels, which are common in individuals with diabetes.

What is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that can develop in anyone with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It occurs when high blood sugar levels cause damage to blood vessels in the retina — the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. In its earliest stages, diabetic retinopathy may cause mild vision problems or none at all. However, it can progress to more severe vision impairment or even blindness if not managed effectively. By scheduling regular eye exams, you're giving yourself and our team the opportunity to spot signs of diabetic retinopathy early on so we can help you manage your condition and potentially save your vision.

How do you diagnose and treat diabetic retinopathy?

Diagnosing diabetic retinopathy involves a comprehensive eye exam that includes visual acuity testing, dilating the eyes to examine the retina, and possibly fluorescein angiography or optical coherence tomography (OCT) to get detailed images of the eye's structures. Treatment for diabetic retinopathy varies depending on the severity of the condition but may include managing blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol, alongside direct treatments like laser surgery, injectable medications to reduce swelling, or vitrectomy to remove blood from the middle of the eye.

How else can diabetes affect the eyes?

Besides diabetic retinopathy, diabetes can be a risk factor for several other eye conditions, including cataracts and glaucoma. High blood sugar levels can alter the lens inside the eye, leading to cataracts, which cloud vision. Glaucoma risk also increases with diabetes, as high sugar levels can damage the optic nerve. Regular diabetic eye exams enable our team to monitor these conditions, allowing for early treatment to prevent significant vision loss.

Schedule your next diabetic eye exam

Protecting your vision when you have diabetes means taking proactive steps for your eye health. If you're due for your annual diabetic eye exam, or if you have noticed changes in your vision, it's time to reach out to inVision Ophthalmology Birmingham. Our team, skilled in diagnosing and treating diabetic eye conditions, is here to support your eye health every step of the way. Contact our ophthalmologists in Birmingham, AL today to ensure your eyes are as healthy as the rest of you.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.