People with diabetes have a heightened risk of developing serious eye disease, including diabetic retinopathy, macular edema, glaucoma and cataracts. In order to avoid these diseases, diabetics must be vigilant about keeping their condition under control and seeing their eye doctors regularly. Eye doctors believe that having dilated eye exams every year can prevent 95 percent of diabetes-related vision loss.

However, a study came out last year that revealed most people with diabetes are not having the regular eye exams that could save their sight. The team of eye doctors at Visual Health explains more here.

What Researchers Found

A team from Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to look at how many people with diabetes have regular eye exams. They reviewed the medical charts of nearly 2,000 patients age 40 or older with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Over a four-year period, the team found that 58 percent of these people did not have regular eye exams.

Smokers and people with less severe diabetes or no symptoms of eye problems were the least likely to have regular eye exams.

How Diabetes Affects the Eyes

Diabetes can cause changes to the small blood vessels of the body, including those that nourish the retina in the back of the eye. The blood vessels can leak fluid and blood, and new abnormal blood vessels can grow, damaging the retina and distorting vision. This is called diabetic retinopathy.

As a complication of diabetic retinopathy, fluid can also build up in the macula, or the central portion of the retina, causing a condition known as macular edema.

People with diabetes are also more likely to develop glaucoma and cataracts.

When left untreated, these diseases can lead to irreversible vision loss and sometimes blindness.

Although the prognosis of these diseases is grim, the good news is that eye doctors can spot signs of a problem before a patient experiences any symptoms. If caught early, these diseases can be properly treated to prevent vision loss.

Schedule an Eye Exam with Our Team

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, Visual Health encourages you to schedule an annual eye exam with our team — even if you are not experiencing any symptoms. Getting on a regular schedule of eye exams could save your vision! Contact us at our Palm Springs office at (561) 964-0707 or our Jupiter office at (561) 747-1111 to make your appointment.