Diabetic Eye Screening

Diabetes affects many parts of the eye.  Early in the disease, there are often no signs or symptoms.  Symptoms of diabetes may be blurred, fluctuating vision, double vision or flashes and floaters.  Diabetes may also contribute to the development of cataracts and glaucoma.  The most serious complication of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy.  The risk of developing diabetic retinopathy is greater if diabetes has been present for a long time or blood sugar levels are not well controlled.  Other risk factors include smoking, poor diet and elevated blood pressure.  To reduce the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, it is important to control your blood sugar levels as much as possible.

As part of your eye examination your optometrist may need to put dilating eye-drops in when checking for diabetic retinopathy.  They will probably photograph your retina for comparison at your next eye examination.  In early stages, diabetic retinopathy is monitored with regular eye examinations.  If more severe diabetic retinopathy is suspected, your optometrist will refer you to an ophthalmologist for treatment.  If needed, the ophthalmologist may use laser to treat the leaking blood vessels.  In some cases, eye surgery may be required.

Treatment for diabetic retinopathy aims to prevent further damage to the eye and keep the best vision for as long as possible.  Usually surgery cannot restore vision that has been lost.  It is important to remember that early detection and if necessary, treatment are the best way to reduce the risk of vision loss from diabetic retinopathy.