If you are diagnosed with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes you should have a dilated eye examination with an eye doctor as soon as the diagnosis is made. A report of this examination will be sent to your primary care doctor. Vision can be affected by diabetes, so it is critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, take blood sugar readings at home regularly to be aware of blood sugar stability and have a regular A1C check by your primary care doctor to keep diabetes under control. An annual eye examination is advised; however, if diabetes has affected your eyes, you may be referred to a retina specialist for any further treatment.
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes can cause partial vision loss and lead to blindness. The damage involves tiny blood vessels in the retina and can be treated, but don’t wait for the symptoms. By the time symptoms occur – blurry vision, shadows or pain, the disease may be severe. People with known diabetes need annual eye exams sometimes even more often if diabetic eye changes have begun. The best prevention is keeping your blood sugar in check.
When high blood sugar levels go unchecked, it can damage tiny blood vessels that support the retina. These blood vessels can swell, break and leak fluid. In some cases, dozens of new abnormal blood vessels grow, resulting in a condition called proliferative retinopathy. The abnormal vessels are very fragile and break open easily. These processes gradually damage the retina, causing blurred vision, blind spots or blindness.