One in three Canadians is living with diabetes or prediabetes. For those living with diabetes, eye care needs to be a top concern.
When a diabetic's blood sugar (or glucose) becomes too high, it affects the eyes. Consistently high glucose levels damage blood vessels in the eyes, leading to a variety of vision problems.
Let's review everything you need to know about diabetic eye disease and how a regular eye exam in Langley can prevent permanent vision problems.
TYPES OF DIABETIC EYE DISEASE
Diabetic eye disease is a collection of eye problems that impact people who are living with diabetes.
The disease includes diabetic retinopathy and macular edema, both of which affect the retina, as well as glaucoma. When untreated, that can lead to blindness and cataracts.
Diabetic retinopathy affects the blood vessels in the retina resulting in hemorrhages and microaneurysms. Over time, it can lead to vision loss and blindness.
Some people may notice slight changes in their vision, but most are not aware of the early stages of diabetic retinopathy.
Unchecked, diabetic retinopathy can cause blood vessels to bleed into the fluid of the eye (known as the vitreous). When this occurs, people will see floating spots that may require treatment. Without treatment, if the bleeding continues, it will cause permanent vision damage.
DIABETIC MACULAR EDEMA
The macula gives us our fine, detailed and colour vision, sending signals to the brain. It allows us to interpret fine images.
Diabetes can cause swelling of the macula, which is called diabetic macular edema. It impairs vision and can result in functional blindness due to an inability to read, drive a car, or even recognize faces. This is the most damaging aspect of diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetics will develop higher levels of glucose in the lenses of their eyes, which can form cataracts. Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye which leads to vision loss. Cataracts are common in people over the age of 65, but those with diabetes have a higher risk of developing them at an earlier age.
Glaucoma refers to an eye disease that damages the optic nerve and left untreated can result in blindness. Symptoms can include patchy blind spots, tunnel vision, eye pain, blurred vision, redness, and frequent headaches, but early on in the disease, the patient may have no symptoms at all.
People living with diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma.
HOW IS DIABETIC EYE DISEASE DETECTED?
The most effective way of preventing the damage brought on by diabetic eye disease is through early detection. All people living with diabetes are recommended to have a full eye examination with dilation yearly (using drops to make the pupil larger to allow for better assessment of the retina).
In most cases, people with diabetes do not notice eye disease symptoms until it's too late. Without early treatment, irreversible vision damage may occur.
At Langley Optometry, qualified eye doctors perform eye exams for Langley residents to identify signs of diabetic eye disease. Early detection leads to early treatment, which protects vision and prevents blindness in those with diabetes.
In Canada, 63% of seniors with diabetes consulted with an eye doctor annually and were, therefore, more likely to have vision problems diagnosed early-on.
DIABETIC EYE EXAMS
A diabetic eye exam in Langley is the best way to protect your eyes and prevent permanent vision problems.
If you're looking for a qualified eye doctor in Langley, you've come to the right place.
Schedule your next eye exam at Langley Optometry. Our professional team of optometrists strives to help our patients understand and prevent diabetic eye disease.