April 28, 2021
When a doctor diagnoses a person with diabetes, he or she will often discuss that person’s blood sugar. Blood sugar is very important, but other parts of the body can change, including the eyes. Many diseases can develop in the eyes and damage a diabetic person’s vision. Vision loss does not have to be an inevitable outcome of diabetes.
There are many ways that an eye doctor can track and treat diabetic-related eye diseases. Patients can take control of their health by understanding how doctors diagnose and treat these eye diseases.
Once a person receives a diagnosis of diabetes from his or her primary care doctor, the next step should be to notify the eye doctor. The doctor will run specialized tests to detect any damage from uncontrolled or high blood sugar in diabetic patients. Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes both can affect a person’s eyes. Doctors say patients with type 1 diabetes should schedule an appointment with their eye doctor in the first five years after their diagnosis. Patients with a type 2 diabetes diagnosis should try to see their eye doctor within the first year, as their eyes may already need attention.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when diabetes damages the blood vessels of the eyes. It is the most common diabetic eye disease. Other common eye diseases are macular edema, which is when too much fluid accumulates in part of the retina, and glaucoma. Diabetic patients may also develop cataracts. A patient might not have any warning signs that they have diabetic retinopathy. An eye doctor will confirm this diagnosis with several tests. Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) creates images of the eye. A dilated pupil exam lets the doctor examine the retina but may not be enough to diagnose early-stage disease. The doctor will also measure eye fluid pressure and may use dyes and a camera if he or she suspects more serious eye damage.
The eye doctor and the medical doctor can work hand in hand when it comes to diabetes — it is a whole-body disease. The number one most effective treatment for diabetic-related eye diseases is controlling blood sugar. Even if a patient has not noticed any changes in vision, the damage may already be there. The eye doctor can see that damage and may recommend laser treatment or specialized surgery called vitrectomy as a way to prevent more damage. Patients should remember that if they already have some loss of vision that these treatments cannot restore what they have already lost. They are treatments to slow further loss.
Many people think that there is nothing they can do about a diabetes diagnosis. Nothing could be further from the truth. You can support your health and your vision with a few simple steps. The doctors at Eye Associates of New York, located in Midtown East, New York, NY, will walk you through your diagnosis and your next steps.
Learn more about diagnosing & treating diabetic eye diseases, contact Eye Associates of New York in Midtown East, New York, NY at (212) 650-4888.