How Often Should Diabetics Have Eye Exams?

Diabetes is a serious condition that can affect many areas of the body. It can increase your risk of developing cataracts, glaucoma, and other eye conditions. High levels of blood sugar can damage eyesight faster than most people realize. So if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you need to get your eyes checked regularly.

How Diabetes Affects Eyesight

Your blood glucose levels can be very high if you have diabetes but are unaware of your condition. This increase in blood sugar can cause damage to the blood vessels in your retina. This can lead to partial or complete loss of vision.

Diabetes and Your Eyes

The best way to detect and manage diabetes-related eye problems is through early detection of retinal issues, careful monitoring, and prompt treatment. These interventions usually begin with the retinal exam. The main concern for diabetics is the development of diabetic retinopathy. This condition results from damage to the blood vessels in the retina.

American Diabetes Association Recommendations

According to the ADA, people with type 1 diabetes need to undergo an eye exam within the first five years following the diagnosis. However, if you have type 2 diabetes, you need to have an eye exam shortly after you get a diagnosis.

Remember that type 2 diabetes can go undetected, undiagnosed, and unaddressed for many years. Hence, during that time, diabetic retinopathy may start developing without your knowledge. An eye exam will help your eye doctor determine whether you have any eye damage.

How Often Should Your Eyes Be Checked?

The American Diabetes Association recommends that diabetics should undergo annual eye exams after their first examination. Do you wear corrective lenses? If you do, you probably go for yearly eye exams to keep your eyeglasses or contact lenses prescription up to date.

During your routine eye exams, your eye doctor will conduct several minor tests to determine whether there is any change in your vision because of diabetes. Sometimes, diabetics develop retinopathy and discover that their symptoms are not progressing or stalled entirely.

If this happens to you, you will probably need to have your eyes monitored for any changes for the rest of your life. Furthermore, if you get a diagnosis and treatment for retinopathy, your eye doctor may recommend several eye exams every year. Thus, the frequency of eye exams largely depends on the severity of the diabetic retinopathy.

How Eye Doctors Diagnose Retinopathy

A dilated eye test is the only way to diagnose diabetic retinopathy. During the test, your eye doctor will place special drops into your eyes to dilate or widen your pupils. This will help him/her see inside your eyes more easily to check for any damage resulting from retinopathy.

Treatments for this diabetic-related eye condition are often quite successful. However, they are not a cure. Since diabetes is a chronic condition, you may experience some symptoms or complications of retinopathy for the rest of your life. Thus, you will need to undergo regular eye exams to monitor your eyes for worsening problems.

To learn more about eye exams for diabetics, visit Atlanta Eye Group at our offices in Atlanta, Alpharetta, or Kennesaw, Georgia. You can call (770) 727-0772 today to schedule an appointment.

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