All people with diabetes should receive an annual comprehensive dilated eye exam.
Diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma can all be caused by diabetes. Eye exams are so important because these diseases often produce no symptoms until the disease becomes severe. Diabetic retinopathy often causes blood vessels in the eye to swell and leak fluid. If the disease becomes severe enough the small healthy blood vessels in the eye become closed off and new “unhealthy” blood vessels begin to grow. Scar tissue may occur as a result of the growth of the new blood vessels. According to the American Optometric Association, the longer you have diabetes the more likely you are to develop diabetic retinopathy.
Many people without diabetes develop eye diseases such as cataracts and glaucoma. According to The American Diabetes Association, diabetics are 60% more likely to develop cataracts and 40% more likely to develop glaucoma.
The keys to prevention or to slow the progression of these diseases are:
- Regular visits to your primary care physician and your eye doctor
- Taking your prescribed medication
- Sticking to your diet and exercise plan
- Controlling high blood pressure
- Avoiding smoking and alcohol