Here are 5 Things every diabetic patient should know about diabetic retinopathy and saving their sight.
Diabetic retinopathy can blind. Patients recently diagnosed with diabetes have a lot to learn about their eyes. Regardless if patients are Type I or Type II diabetics, there is a short check list to learn to ensure proper care for their eyes.
At first, the blurry vision is to be expected and should become more consistent as your sugar levels become stable.
It’s hard to know exactly how long you have been diabetic. It is quite likely your vision was fine, but since you’ve been diagnosed, your glasses don’t work and your vision is blurry.
Sugar levels affect the strength of glasses that we need. For instance, let’s say you got glasses and your sugar was 150. Two weeks later they arrive and your sugar has been 350. Your glasses/contacts won’t work.
Large fluctuations in your sugar cause changes in the prescription. This phenomenon is related to the fact that the water content of your natural lens changes with fluctuations of your sugar.
Blurry vision or not, it is recommended that every diabetic get a full, dilated eye exam at the time of diagnosis, not only for possible glasses, but to look for pre-existing diabetic retinopathy.
I would recommend that you see your eye doctor after your sugar is controlled and has been controlled for several weeks. There is a lag time between changes in your sugar and the water content in the lens of your eye.
As recommended by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Optometric Association and the American Diabetes Association every diabetic patient needs to be examined, at the minimum, once per year.
This does not mean a glasses check, but a full dilated eye exam allowing your doctor to examine your retina.
There is no correlation between your vision and the presence, or absence, of diabetic retinopathy.
For instance, patients can have perfect, 20/20, vision and still be on the verge of blindness or loss of vision. The only way to determine any active retinopathy is for your doctor to see you.
If you are examined regularly, the chance of severe vision loss, including blindness, is < 0.3%. That’s right, timely, regular eye exams will allow your doctors to diagnose, treat, and prevent severe vision loss from diabetic retinopathy. We are best able to prevent vision than we are at restoring vision.
What Does This Mean? These are great starting points for anyone newly diagnosed with diabetes. Pass these simple tips on to someone you know that is newly diagnosed.
There is a lot going on with a new diagnosis of diabetes and good clear information about diabetic retinopathy should help take some of the anxiety away about their new diagnosis.
Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Ophthalmologist, Retina Specialist