A Comprehensive Eye Exam Can Detect Diabetes; A Disease That Six Million Americans Don’t Know That They Have

Diabetes is becoming an epidemic because of the obesity crisis in the United States. In fact, 17 million Americans suffer from diabetes. Of these people, one-third are unaware that they have the disease.

With a dilated, comprehensive eye examination, an optometrist can detect and diagnose diabetes and start you on the road to treatment for the disease. Through a comprehensive dilated eye exam, we can look inside the eye and examine blood vessels directly, detecting signs and symptoms of vascular diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Undiagnosed, diabetes can result in vision impairment, a frequent complication of both Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes, and blindness. Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults 20-74 years old. Other vision problems caused by diabetes include: vision changes, glaucoma, cataracts and retinopathy. Part of living with diabetes and successful eye care is having a dilated eye examination on at least an annual basis – more often if you have existing eye issues or more serious retinopathy. Certainly, if you experience any change in vision, you should immediately see your optometrist.

For someone who has been diagnosed with diabetes, the annual dilated exam is important. When we do an examination, I’m looking at the retina for early signs of diabetic retinopathy, such as leaking blood vessels, retinal swelling, and deposits on the retina – all of which are signs of leaking or damaged blood vessels.

An optometrist is an important member of your health care team – particularly if you have been diagnosed with diabetes. Type-2 diabetes is associated with older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, medical history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, physical inactivity and race/ethnicity. The rising incidence of diabetes in the United States is a result of a dramatic increase in obesity, as well as the aging of the population. If you have risk factors associated with diabetes, consider having a dilated eye examination to control the disease and lower the risk of complications.


Author: Dr. Jerry Hendricks

Other vision articles by Dr. Jerry Hendricks
Healthy Eating Habits and Eye Health
Lawn and Garden Eye Hazards
Sports Vision: See Clearly As You Protect Your Eyes

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