I Am A Diabetic, Why Do I Need An Eye Exam?  

You recently had a diabetic check up with your primary care physician.  Hopefully everything was stable or maybe the doctor said your diabetes was not under good control.  Whatever the news was, now the doctor is wanting you to get an eye exam.  What?!  An eye exam?!  What does having diabetes have to do with my eyes?

Diabetic Eye Exams, Why Are They So Important? 

Diabetes is an increasingly common disease that affects many parts of the body.  Diabetes, whether Type I or Type II, causes the body to have a difficult time regulating blood sugar levels on its own.  To help regulate blood sugar levels, medication may be required such as Insulin or Metformin.  Many patients notice that when their blood sugars go up or down, their vision can get blurry.  When high blood sugars are left unchecked or uncontrolled for a period of time, the eye can experience some problems.  The retina can swell, cataracts can get worse, new blood vessels can grow where they are not supposed to in the back of the eye, or even a retinal detachment can become a problem.

Getting regular, yearly dilated eye exams is recommended for all diabetics.  However, if your blood sugars have been uncontrolled and you have some of these problems mentioned earlier already, your ophthalmologist or optometrist may recommend you come in more frequently.  Your eye doctor may even suggest treatments such as injections, lasers, or even surgery.  Being examined every year can help doctors determine if you are at high risk for these complications and can often help save vision which would have otherwise been lost.


Take Home Points 
  • Both Type I and Type II Diabetics are recommended to get yearly diabetic dilated eye exams
  • Diabetes can cause retinal edema, cataracts, new blood vessels growing in the retina, and even retinal detachments
  • Early exams and intervention are crucial for preventing problems and improving visual outcomes
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