Diabetes and Vision Loss

Annual Eye Exams are Important for Healthy Vision.

Diabetes can lead to blindness
Diabetes can distort healthy vision.

According to a large study, 45% of those with diabetes already have some form of eye disease.  Yet, 95% of diabetes related vision loss can be prevented with regular eye exams.

 “It is extremely important for anyone with diabetes to have an annual eye exam that includes the dilation of their eyes,”  states Dr. Thomas Baudo, board-certified ophthalmologist and fellowship-trained retina specialist with Florida Eye Institute.

Since visual symptoms can be one of the first signs of diabetes in many individuals, a dilated eye exam can be a step towards receiving a diagnosis. “It’s just as important for those without a diagnosis of diabetes to have a dilated eye exam as part of their annual wellness routine.”

Diabetes affects the entire body through small blood vessels largely concentrated within the extremities, heart, kidneys, and the eyes. Since visual symptoms can be one of the first signs of diabetes in many individuals, a dilated eye exam can be a step towards receiving a diagnosis.

“The eyes are full of small vessels that nourish the retina,” Dr. Baudo explains. “When a person’s blood sugars are elevated, one of the first symptoms they experience is blurred vision. Fluctuating blood sugar creates fragile, abnormal blood vessels that grow and leak within the eye, distorting vision. Distortions can advance to blindness if left untreated.”

It’s important to remember that vision loss due to diabetes is not something to be addressed with corrective lenses; it is a medical problem that needs medical treatment. The good news, Dr. Baudo says, is that there have been significant improvements in the treatment of diabetic eye disease in the last 10 years.

Florida Eye Institute specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of Diabetic Eye Disease.
Florida Eye Institute specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of Diabetic Eye Disease.

Diabetic eye disease is a group of conditions that includes retinopathy, diabetic macular edema (DME), cataract, and glaucoma.

Lasers have been the primary form of treatment available prior to the turn of the century. Today, laser treatment has been supplemented with medications that can be injected directly into the eye, greatly improving the results of treatment and decreasing the percentage of diabetic blindness as a result.

“Regular exams reveal hidden signs of disease that allow us to begin treatment early. Don’t risk vision loss,” he emphasizes. “Ophthalmologists are an important member of your health care team and it costs no more to see a retina specialist than other type of eye care professional.”

“The bottom line is – if you have diabetes – get a retina eye exam every year,” concludes Dr. Baudo.

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