Diabetes is a growing health concern all over the world. As cases continue to rise, so does its secondary, serious complication: Diabetic Retinopathy (DR). Diabetic Retinopathy is one of the leading causes of blindness among the working-age population . (And maybe you’ve never heard of it before. We’re here to change that — so you understand how diabetes impacts your eye health.)
One-third of all diabetics will have some form of DR — and 1 in 10 will have vision-threatening levels. One of the best ways to manage this devastating disease is with routine eye exams and retinal imaging. (Our Phoenix optometrist specializes in DR and invested in the best, non-invasive tool for clearly seeing what’s going on in your retina!)
Today we’ll look at how DR affects your eye health and why early detection is key in preserving your vision.
We know diabetes has to do with sugar — too much of it. When we have excess sugar, it ends up in our blood, and well, our blood goes everywhere. This includes the tiny blood vessels and capillaries in our eyes.
Too much sugar ends up damaging important blood vessels that supply nutrients and oxygen to the macula, the center portion of the retina. Damage to the retina and macula causes vision problems and risks to your eye health.
The severity of diabetic retinopathy depends on many factors like:
How long you’ve had diabetes or DR
Your average blood glucose levels (A1C)
How physically active you are
If you have other risk factors like hypertension or heart disease
Not only are these important details for your overall health, but they all impact your eye health. Preventing damage is your best defense against diabetic retinopathy. How? With routine eye exams. (Yes, it really can be that simple.)
Eye On Health is dedicated to monitoring your diabetic eye health. Our optometrist, Dr. Balocca, took a special interest in this area of eye care and he’s ready to serve your unique needs.
NPDR is the first stage of diabetic retinopathy. “Non-proliferative” means you don’t have abnormal blood vessels growing (more on this soon). You have the opportunity to prevent vision loss and preserve the sight you have in the early stages of DR!
NPDR often doesn’t have symptoms — which means it can go unnoticed without routine eye checkups.
Dr. Balocca recommends yearly eye exams for his diabetic patients to closely monitor the slightest changes. At Eye On Health, we offer the latest medical technology to detect diabetic retinopathy. (This important retinal imaging machine is called the OCT. Keep reading to learn more about how this special device helps monitor your retina.)
PDR is the advanced form of DR and often causes vision loss from new blood vessel formation. “Proliferative” means new growth and not the good kind. When these new blood vessels form, they’re weak and bleed, causing serious harm to your vision and eye health.
When diabetic retinopathy progresses, you’ll notice more symptoms in your vision. PDR requires medical intervention from a retina specialist, an eye doctor who specializes in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy. We’ll hope you never get to this point, but if you do – Dr. Balocca can get you to the right people fast!
An increasing number of floaters
Missing or dark areas in your eyesight
Poor night vision
Colors are faded
Loss of vision
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms be sure to call our office at 480-809-0550 to discuss with one of our dedicated eye care professionals.
Diabetic eye exams are the cornerstone to preserving your eyesight. Routine eye exams protect your eye health by showing changes that are so subtle, you may not notice. Since NPDR doesn’t have a lot of symptoms, it’s all the more reason to have an experienced eye doctor like Dr. Balocca keep an Eye On YOUR Health! (See what we did there?)
During your diabetic eye exam, not only does our optometrist assess your vision, but he also measures other areas of your eye health. The all-important retina gets checked out by our state-of-the-art optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging machine. (And yes, we know, the names are ridiculous for a lot of eye stuff.)
The OCT is a high-tech device that’s not invasive – yet takes detailed images of the layers of your retina. These photos provide essential insight for patients with diabetes and other diseases, like macular degeneration.
With leading-edge technology, our eye doctor gains important information about your overall eye health — and your risk level for diabetes impairing your vision. With routine exams, we can compare your test results to your previous images every year. So our eye doctor will catch even the smallest of changes!
Between yearly eye visits, our best advice to benefit — and retain — your eyesight is to:
Work closely with your healthcare provider
Check your blood sugar regularly
Eat a balanced diet
According to the American Diabetes Association, the goal for most people with diabetes is an A1C value of 7% or lower. With small steps over time, you can manage these health challenges and keep your eyes seeing well!
Vision loss from diabetes can be prevented with routine eye exams. We’ll say it again because it’s so big: You CAN retain healthy eyesight if you have diabetes.
Yes, it takes dedication and consistency to effectively manage diabetes. And we know you can do it. You have a compassionate eye doctor nearby in Phoenix! Dr. Balocca is ready to provide exceptional care to you and your family.
Diabetes is best managed with support from your healthcare provider and eye doctor. Seeing the same eye doctor yearly helps monitor your specific eye health — on a personal level.
You want to trust your optometrist, and Eye On Health has one of the best. We’re here to serve ALL your family’s eye care needs. From your diabetic eye exam to your kid’s contact lens exam, let us make the difference for you here in Phoenix. We look forward to seeing you soon!