Diabetes is a condition that affects how well your cells absorb sugar from your bloodstream, which can cause you to have very high levels of blood sugar. The effects of high blood sugar can affect a wide variety of tissues and organs throughout your body, including your eyes. While eye doctors can detect a number of vision problems with a routine eye exam, they need to perform a special eye exam to spot the signs of eye problems associated with diabetes.
Diabetes can increase your risk for certain eye conditions, such as glaucoma and cataracts. Your eye doctor can typically find these conditions with a comprehensive eye exam. Diabetes can also affect your retina, which is the light sensitive tissue lining the inside of your eye. One of the most common retinal diseases associated with diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, a condition in which high blood sugar levels cause blood vessels to leak fluid into the retina.
Detecting diabetic retinopathy requires special testing. One such test is a dilated eye exam. In this test, the eye doctor puts drops of liquid into your eyes that widen, or dilate, your pupils. Dilating the pupils allows the eye doctor to see inside eyes more easily, and to detect signs of diabetic retinopathy. While your eyes are dilated, your eye doctor may perform two tests:
Optical coherence tomography (OCT)
OCT creates very detailed images of your eyes. These images allow your eye doctor to measure the thickness of your retina, and determine where fluid may be leaking from damaged blood vessels.
While your pupils are still dilated, your eye doctor injects a special dye into your arm. The dye helps your eye doctor identify any blockages in your blood vessels and determine which blood vessels are leaking blood.
For more information on special eye exams for people with diabetes, contact your eye doctor at Advanced Optometric Services.