3 Ways to Prevent Diabetes Induced Vision Loss

26 Oct


At Spectrum Eyecare in Peachtree City, Dr. John Henahan considers educating diabetic patients one of his most important missions.  That is because diabetes is the single leading cause of irreversible vision loss in Americans under 70 years of age.  During this month, please visit stopdiabetes.org to learn more about this disease.  As for preserving your vision, below are Dr. Henahan’s top tips to prevent vision loss if you are diabetic.

 1)    Annual Eye Exams

Seeing well into the future is no big trick — as long as you have regular vision and eye health examinations.  There are many disorders and diseases that can have long lasting affects on your eyes if not diagnosed early.  One disease that can be detected during a thorough eye examination is diabetic eye disease. Yet, less than 50% of diabetics have an annual diabetic eye examination.  That is unfortunate, as early detection and treatment can prevent vision loss in the majority of people suffering from diabetic eye disease.  Studies have repeatedly shown that early detection of diabetic eye disease is essential for the prevention of vision loss.  Once vision loss occurs, it is unlikely that full function can be recovered.

2) Retinal Photography

Be sure that your eye examination includes a dilated eye examination and photography of the retina (the part of the eye where most vision loss in diabetes occurs). Retinal photography has been shown to detect diabetic eye disease in more people than an eye examination alone.

Blood and Swelling in Retina from Diabetic Eye Disease

Note blood spots and white swollen areas (click to enlarge)

3)   Control Blood Sugar

The two main risk factors for diabetic eye disease are how long you have been diabetic and how well you control your blood sugar.  Since you cannot control how long you have been diabetic, it is imperative that you control your blood sugar. The most important measure of control is a blood test called an “A-1-C” test. This test measures how well you have controlled your blood sugar for the past 90 days or so.  “I often tell my patients that this test is the best way to know if you are winning or losing your battle with diabetes”, says Dr. Henahan. It is critical to have this test done by your doctor as directed (typically every three months).  Also you need to know your doctor’s goal for your score (typically in the 6.0-7.0 range).  If you don’t know your score, you need to find out.

Dr. Henahan and Spectrum Eyecare are emphasizing the importance of annual dilated eye examinations during American Diabetes Month in November.  As a diabetic, or a person at risk, seeing your optometrist is as important as visiting your physician regularly and following instructions about proper diet, exercise, and medication.

Remember, if you are diabetic your medical insurance will cover an eye examination, so you do not need vision insurance to have an exam (you may still have a deductible or co-pay, check with your insurance company).

Schedule an annual eye examination today if it has been more than a year or if your blood sugar control has been deteriorating. Dr. Henahan is a resident of Peachtree City and founder of Spectrum Eyecare.  You may reach his office at 770-487-0667 or on the web at SpecEye.com.

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