I'm a Diabetic: Why Is My Eye Care Different from Others?

I'm a Diabetic: Why Is My Eye Care Different from Others?

The elevated blood glucose levels associated with diabetes take a serious toll on the blood vessels and nerves in your body, from head to toe. Diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage) and blood vessel issues in your feet and legs can, without blood sugar control, lead to amputation in severe cases. 

Likewise, your eyes can suffer damage due to high levels of blood glucose. The most common eye disease connected with uncontrolled blood sugar is called diabetic retinopathy. It can lead to vision problems and blindness. 

Though your vision may seem fine, it’s time to check in with the diabetic eye care experts at Accent Vision Specialists in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Early detection of diabetes-related eye conditions can help you keep your vision trouble-free, so expect more frequent eye exams than those without high blood sugar. 

Origins of diabetic retinopathy

Elevated glucose levels make your blood more acidic. Blood vessels are sensitive to this condition, particularly tiny blood vessels such as those that supply the retinas, the image-forming surface at the inside back of your eye. 

Affected vessels become blocked or weakened, causing bulges and dilations. They can leak or create fluid buildups. 

When blood vessel damage affects the center part of the retina, called the macula, your vision may noticeably change, since this is where your main vision is concentrated. 

This is typical in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, the most common condition, alsknown as non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR), because new blood vessels don’t grow (proliferate) to account for the blocked vessels. 

Advanced diabetic retinopathy is less common, but it can develop from NDPR. In this case, your body begins to proliferate, making new blood vessels, but these may not develop normally because of blood sugar conditions. 

These vessels, too, can leak as well as create scar tissue. This can block the normal drainage of fluid filling your eyes, or it may cause your retina to detach from the wall of your eye. Increased pressure from lack of drainage may also damage your optic nerve. Each of these conditions can threaten your eyesight if left undetected and untreated. Treatment can involve laser or injections into the eye, or both.

Why diabetic eye care is different

The first step in managing any problem created by diabetes is to get blood sugar levels under control. Lowering blood sugar through diet, exercise, quitting smoking, and taking medications prevents the advancement of virtually any diabetic side condition. 

Once you’ve received a diabetes diagnosis, your targets for blood pressure and cholesterol become more aggressive than for the general population. This is because the condition of arteries and veins in your body is now in question. 

High blood pressure and cholesterol levels can add to this damage, so it’s in your interest to improve every aspect of your blood vessel health threats. 

Where, in the past, you had eye exams at intervals of two years or more, your diabetes management team may now recommend annual visits to stay on top of the eye conditions that may be influenced by your blood glucose levels. More frequent visits may be needed if signs of diabetic retinopathy are found.

Regular eye exams are part of your diabetes management program, eliminating vision-related surprises due to your condition. Contact Accent Vision Specialists to schedule your diabetic eye exam by calling our office today.

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