How Do I Know if I Need the Help of a Diabetic Eye Doctor?
Quite simply, if you have diabetes or are at risk of it (often termed pre-diabetes) then you need to use the services of a diabetic eye doctor. Good management of the condition is the key to keeping optimal vision throughout your lifetime. Only by undergoing regular checks from an ophthalmologist experienced in the monitoring and treatment of diabetic retinopathy will you be able to undergo early intervention should further complications arise.
While anyone who has diabetes is at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, there are additional factors that increase its likelihood or speed of progression. These are:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- High cholesterol
- Poorly controlled blood sugar
- Certain ethnicities—Hispanic, Native American, and African-American
- During pregnancy
In addition, the longer you have diabetes, the greater your chances of developing diabetic retinopathy.The complications of diabetic eye disease are many, and diabetic eye specialists are highly trained to spot the earliest symptoms during regular eye checks. The retina is the light-sensitive layer of cells at the back of the eye, transferring light into electrical signals and transmitting it via the optic nerve to the brain. To work efficiently, the retina needs a constant source of oxygen-rich blood, which it receives via a network of tiny blood vessels. When the blood sugar is uncontrolled over long periods this weakens and damages these blood vessels. Left untreated this can, in severe cases, lead to permanent loss of vision. There are two stages of diabetic eye disease—early diabetic retinopathy and advanced diabetic retinopathy. In the early stage, it’s unlikely that you’ll notice any obvious symptoms. However, the anatomical changes that are occurring within the eye will be picked up during a regular diabetic eye screen from your ophthalmologist. If you experience any of the following symptoms you should see your diabetic eye specialist immediately:
- New floaters (shapes floating in your field of vision)
- Blurred or patchy vision
- Eye pain
- Any worsening of vision
- Sudden vision loss