Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in Canada! People living with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts at a younger age and have a higher risk of developing glaucoma, but diabetic retinopathy is the biggest threat to vision for those who have diabetes.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs because of weakening or swelling of the tiny blood vessels inside of the eye, which can lead to hemorrhaging, new blood vessel growth and scarring. If diabetic retinopathy is left untreated it can lead to blindness.
How can I tell if I have diabetic retinopathy (DR)?
In early stages there may be no symptoms, which is why it is important to have regular eye exams. Symptoms, if present, can include: Blurred vision, Flashes of light in the field of vision, Sudden loss of vision, or Blotches or spots in vision – See more at: http://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/complications/eye-damage-diabetic-retinopathy#sthash.AG3bEQIt.dpuf
Retinopathy affects 23 per cent of people with type 1 diabetes and 14 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes on insulin therapy.
You can reduce your risk of developing visual damage from DR by:
- Visit your optometrist at least once per year.
- Maintain optimal blood glucose levels, blood pressure and blood cholesterol.
- Know your A1C (a test of your average blood glucose level over three months). Most people with diabetes should aim for a target of 7.0 or less.
Many problems can be treated with greater success when caught early. So it is vital to see an experienced eye care professional regularly and keep blood glucose (sugar) levels well managed.- See more at: http://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/complications/eye-damage-diabetic-retinopathy#sthash.AG3bEQIt.dpuf
Diabetic Eye Examinations:
In a diabetic eye exam, the doctor will dilate the eyes with topical medications, which will make the pupil larger, to check for changes or damage from the diabetes including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts. The doctor may use advanced technologies such as Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) and Digital Fundus photography to aid in the monitoring for these changes.