Did You Know – Your Optometrist Can Be Your Diabetes Detector?
Are things looking a little fuzzy these days? Even if they’re not, a quick trip to your eye doctor for a complete eye exam can be the key to evaluating your overall health and possibly even identifying the onset of diabetes and conditions like diabetic retinopathy or diabetic macular edema.
Eyes on Diabetes
Over 12% of adults in the U.S. age 20 and old have diabetes—and the Centers for Disease control reports that 3% don’t even know it yet! A full eye exam with an optometrist can help detect this chronic disease as well as any diabetic eye disease to help you get necessary treatment as soon as possible.
Optometrists can be the first line of defense in dealing with this manageable condition. While you might not go to your general physician every year for a complete physical exam and blood testing, your annual optometrist’s comprehensive dilated eye exam utilizes the latest testing technology to look into eye problems that you might not even know you have, including diabetic eye problems.
Diabetes, a condition that affects how your body processes glucose (blood sugar), can blur your vision. When blood sugar levels are elevated, it impacts your ability to focus as fluid is pulled from the tissue of the eye, often creating diabetic eye complications.
Or you might see fine, but your eye may reveal damage that indicates diabetes. Getting to the optometrist for a diabetic eye exam to see what’s up can help begin the journey to get your blood sugar levels down.
Four Healthy Steps
Your eye doctor can evaluate the condition of your eye by checking the retina (the back of your eye) for blood vessel changes such as leaks or fatty deposits, Macula swelling, nerve tissue damage, and changes to the lens of the eye. Doing that involves four pretty basic tests that happen every time you have good quality, comprehensive eye exam, so testing for eyesight problems like diabetes is not going to be something new and scary in the dark testing room!
- Visual acuity eye testing. This is the classic eye chart “better or worse” test trying different lenses to evaluate how you’re seeing from a particular distance.
- Tonometry. This eye exam test measures pressure inside the eye. Just slide your chin onto the rest and let the professionals guide you through the quick evaluation.
- Pupil dilation. This eye test is where your sight gets a little funky for just a little while. Those drops widen the pupil so your optometrist can examine the retina and optic nerve.
- Optical coherence tomography (OCT). This eye exam is where tech takes center stage, capturing detailed images in the eye with light waves…kind of like an ultra sound, but with light!
Stick with It
If you’ve already been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s more important than ever to stay in touch with your optometrist, who is able to examine your eyes for signs of any diabetic eye problems. While you’re probably under the regular care of your general physician or an endocrinologist, those appointments aren’t a replacement for comprehensive dilated eye exams with an optometrist.
Set up an annual eye exam appointment to keep an eye on your eyes, ensuring that your diabetes is being well controlled and there are no signs of possible diabetic eye disease complications such as retinal damage, cataracts, and glaucoma.
Your optometrist is a health partner who can tell you how you’re doing and if you need to step up eye care to live your best life.