Diabetes Awareness Month – Learn about Diabetic Eye Health in St. Louis
November is Diabetes Awareness Month, a time to learn more about diabetes of all types – type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.
Everyone knows the word “diabetes,” but can you define the condition? Diabetes is a disease characterized by higher than normal glucose levels in your blood. Blood glucose is what fuels your body, and it comes from the food you eat. When blood sugar flows through your bloodstream, insulin is needed to help it enter your body cells so it can be used for energy. However, if you have diabetes, your body may make insufficient insulin or not be able to use the insulin properly. As a result, all that sugar stays circulation in your blood – unable to be converted into energy.
Diabetes can be managed very well through diet, exercise, and taking medication. Without controlling diabetes by keeping blood sugar levels within the parameters recommended by your doctor, the high blood sugar can damage many organs – including your eyes. Staying healthy by following your personalized diabetes management plan and making sure to visit your eye doctor for regular eye exams, you can pave your path to good vision and eye health!
Diabetic eye health & diabetic eye disease
To state the facts – diabetes-related eye disease can lead to vision loss, but if you have diabetes, you can minimize your risk of developing diabetic eye disease. Taking charge of your health and visiting our St. Louis eye doctor for regular eye exams can help prevent these diseases from developing.
Diabetic eye disease comprises several ocular conditions:
- Diabetic retinopathy – occurs when the small blood vessels in your retina bleed and leak
- Macular edema – swelling that occurs along with retinopathy; it happens when the retinal blood vessels in the macula (central region of the retina) leak and lead to inflammation
- Cataracts – a clouding of the lens in the eye, which can cause blurry vision
- Glaucoma – increased intraocular pressure, which damages the optic nerve and can cause loss of peripheral vision
Diabetes eye exams
With regular check-ups by our St. Louis eye doctor, you can help prevent eye problems or keep the problems minor. One mistake that many people with diabetes make is to assume that a diabetes eye exam is only necessary if they notice any symptoms. This couldn’t be further from the truth! A comprehensive eye exam is the only reliable way to detect several eye conditions that can cause vision loss, such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts. Early detection of these problems can make the difference between effective, successful treatment and damage to your vision. During your dilated eye exam, the eye doctor will use high-powered magnification to inspect the inner tissues of your eye thoroughly, checking the retina for signs of diabetic retinopathy and checking the optic nerve for any damage.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) guidelines:
- People with type 1 diabetes should have their first diabetic eye exam within the first five years
- People with type 2 diabetes should visit their eye doctor for the first diabetic eye exam immediately after diagnosis. Type 2 diabetes can remain undetected for years, and vision damage can occur during this time.
- Women with gestational diabetes should have an eye exam during the first trimester of pregnancy
After the first diabetic eye exam at St. Louis, our eye doctor advises all adults with diabetes to visit yearly for a comprehensive dilated eye exam.
At Vision Care Consultants, we put your family's needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 314-843-5700 or book an appointment online to see one of our St. Louis eye doctors.
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