Diabetic eye exams should be performed routinely every year on type I and Type II diabetics, also known as insulin-dependant diabetes and non insulin-dependant diabetes, respectively. A diabetic eye exam consists of thorough vision testing, binocular vision testing and a complete ocular health assessment that includes a dilated fundus examination. During a dilated fundus examination, your optometrist will put drops in your eyes and ask you to wait 20-30 minutes before he or she examines your retina. Your optometrist will check for cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
Poorly-controlled blood sugar could result in a significant vision change. If you have diabetes, your prescription can fluctuate as your blood sugar goes up or down. Some patients experience a sudden increase in their nearsightedness and in some cases the prescription actually improves.
Binocular Vision Testing
Your optometrist routinely tests how your eyes work together and how your eyes move. Diabetes can affect the cranial nerves, the nerves that innervate the head. 3 of the cranial nerves control the muscles that move the eye. If one of these cranial nerves is affected, you may experience sudden double vision. You need to consult your doctor immediately because sudden double vision can be an emergency.
Diabetes affects the small blood vessels in the body, including the retina. In diabetic retinopathy, the tiny blood vessels in the retina leak blood and fluid. In some patients, there may be new vessels that grow. This type of diabetic retinopathy is more serious and may result in permanent vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy is the primary cause of blindness in North America. Not all diabetics develop diabetic retinopathy.
Risk factors for diabetic retinopathy include:
– Having diabetes for a greater number of years
– poorly-controlled blood sugar
– high blood pressure
Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy:
– blurry vision
– distorted vision
– floaters or flashs
A diabetic eye exam may also include an OCT scan. Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is a new technology that enables us to view the different layers of the retina enabling us to diagnose diabetic changes earlier.