Diabetic Eye Physicals

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Unique Eye Care for Patients with Diabetes

Managing diabetes effectively can be challenging, but taking care of your eyes does not have to be. While diabetes can cause potentially severe conditions such as diabetic retinopathy (the leading cause of blindness in American adults), it can also be easily monitored and managed with annual diabetic eye exams.

It is important for patients with diabetes to have a comprehensive diabetes-specific eye exam at least once per year.

How Does Diabetic Retinopathy Develop?

The back of your eye is covered with several thin layers of tissue. These tissues make up the retina, which is responsible for detecting light and is full of small, delicate blood vessels.

Over time, high or irregular blood sugar levels can damage these blood vessels. If not addressed, this damage can cause bleeding and scar tissue, which can permanently damage your vision.

Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when blood sugar levels are not managed effectively, damaging the blood vessels in your retina and prompting them to leak fluid. Your body tries to replace these damaged blood vessels by growing new ones. However, the new blood vessels are often irregular and weak. When they become damaged, they can leak easily, causing scar tissue that impairs your vision.

Severe Diabetic Retinopathy

When diabetic retinopathy becomes particularly severe, it may develop into diabetic macular edema. As the blood vessels in the retina continue to bleed, the retina starts to swell.

Eventually, the retina can become so swollen that it obscures the macula, a small area of the retina responsible for central vision that allows you to read, recognize faces, and notice fine details. Any damage to your macula can have a significant impact on your vision.

“Optometrists understand that thinking about eye health can be frightening for patients with diabetes. We want to help alleviate that anxiety. With a regular schedule of diabetic eye exams, we can track and maintain your eye health and detect potential problems before they can compromise your eye health or vision.”

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

For the most part, early-to-moderate diabetic retinopathy is asymptomatic; you may not notice any symptoms until you have already lost a significant portion of your vision. However, more noticeable symptoms include:

  • Dark or blank spots in your vision
  • Blurriness
  • Inconsistent vision
  • Changes in color vision
  • Floating “spots” or “strings”

Medical Optometry America Recommended Tools & Therapies

Medical Optometry America practices use the following technology and therapies to diagnose and manage diabetic eye diseases:

  • OCT (Retina Scan): A non-invasive imaging test that allows your eye doctor to see each of the retina’s distinct layers, providing treatment guidance for diabetic eye diseases.
  • Fundus Photography: The use of a retinal camera to photograph different regions of the eye. This test is considered medically necessary for diagnosing diabetic retinopathy, along with several other conditions.
  • Nutritional Therapy: Medical Optometry America offices carry the #1 nutritional products on the market (nūmaqula and nūretin by PRN) to support retinal health.

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