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Diabetes and vision loss - How are they related?

Updated: Oct 28, 2022

There are many factors that can influence your vision health. One of the most common is diabetes. Though you may not realize it, diabetes can impact your vision over time causing your vision to deteriorate by contributing to the development of eye diseases like cataracts, glaucoma, and most diabetic retinopathy, which if not treated could all lead to blindness.

This is why it’s important to talk to an optometrist at your local Laurier Optical store who can give you the advice you need to protect your vision from further damage, including tips on how to manage blood glucose, how often you should be getting eye exams, and treatment options to manage your condition and preserve your vision.

How diabetes affects the eyes

If you’re already living with diabetes, you’ll know the impact sugar can have on our blood. In terms of diabetes and vision changes, over time the effects of uncontrolled, high sugar levels can lead to blood vessels in the back of the eye, which is known as the retina, weakening, causing them to swell and leak. This leads to blurred vision and blind spots, which if left untreated, can cause significant damage to your vision. This is what we call diabetic retinopathy, which is perhaps the most common diabetic-related eye disease.

Have a regular eye exam

Getting a regular eye exam is the first step in preventing vision deterioration. Diabetic retinopathy can appear over time and is not always detectable right away. Our optometrists are trained to detect the signs of serious eye disease and provide you with treatment options that can improve your vision and comfort level.

They’ll begin by testing your eyes comprehensively, and if diabetic retinopathy is detected, they may refer you to an ophthalmologist for further investigation or recommend immediate treatment if they think it has advanced significantly to prevent further damage.

Remember, people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy so it's important to make sure you are doing everything you can to protect your vision.

When to get an eye exam

If you’ve been told you’re diabetic, it’s important to have your eyes tested once a year. If you have a significant risk for vision loss or other eye health issues, then our optometrists may ask you to visit more frequently.

If you think you may have diabetic retinopathy or are noticing changes in your vision, then it’s important to book an appointment with us as soon as possible.

There are several early warning signs of diabetic retinopathy including:

● blurred vision

● flashes of light in the field of vision

● sudden loss of vision

● blotches or spots in vision

People who are pregnant can experience more severe diabetic retinopathy, so it is important to see us if you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant.

What happens during the eye exam?

There are several ways our optometrists can check for diabetic retinopathy.

First, they will do a complete eye exam to evaluate your overall vision. This will include doing a complete medical history to see if you are at a greater risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. It’s always important you disclose if any of your close family members have experienced any symptoms or are also diabetic, as this may increase your chances of developing this eye disease.

Next, they’ll use retinal imaging technology to check your eyes for blood vessel damage.

Based on the results of your eye exam, they’ll put together a treatment plan to help protect your eyes from further deterioration.

How to prevent diabetic retinopathy

There is no guarantee that you won’t experience diabetic retinopathy, however, there are things you can do to reduce your risk and help lead a healthy lifestyle, including:

● Keeping your blood pressure down

● Lowering your cholesterol

● Following any health plan advised by your doctor

● Eating healthily

● Getting regular exercise

● Stopping smoking

● Reducing stress levels

These simple steps will help you keep your diabetes under control and are the perfect complement to any solutions your optometrist may provide.

Contact your optometrists in Ontario

If you think you have symptoms of diabetic retinopathy or are experiencing similar changes in your vision and are concerned, please don’t hesitate to contact us – your local optometrists in Ontario, to speak to an expert and book an eye exam for your peace of mind.

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