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Can eye examination detect diabetes?

Eye examination

When was the last time you had a comprehensive eye exam? If it’s been more than a few years now, you are overdue and should schedule an appointment soon.

During a comprehensive eye exam, an Ophthalmologist or Optometrist will check your eyesight through the use of a refraction eye exam. However, they’ll also perform many other tests that could detect certain health conditions that you might not be aware of. So you might be surprised by how many health risks an optometrist can find during a comprehensive eye exam.

What is the connection between diabetes and the eyes?

Diabetes creates high blood sugar (glucose) levels, which causes glucose to collect in the blood. Moreover, this narrows blood vessels, reduces blood and oxygen flow and increases the risk of damaged vessels.

However, the rise and fall of blood sugar, and the damage to small blood vessels, can cause vision and eye health problems.  

The most common short-term effect of diabetes on vision and eye health is blurry vision. It is caused by swelling or reduced brain function due to the rise and fall of blood sugar levels in the body. 

What is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the back of the eye(retina). It can cause blindness if left undiagnosed and untreated.

How is diabetic retinopathy detected?

Standard eye exams won’t detect diabetic retinopathy, but an ophthalmologist or optometrist can detect a dilated eye exam.

What happens during a dilated eye exam?

The doctor will give you eye drops to dilate or open your pupils. This provides a better view of the back of your eye. Next, the eye doctor examines your eye through a special magnifying glass and uses a bright light to examine the:

  • Optic nerve
  • Blood vessels in and around the retina
  • Back of the eye

Your doctor might also use a special camera to capture an image of areas that they would like to examine further. The doctor will then go over the exam results or tell you if further tests need to be performed.

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