11 Jul Screening For Diabetic Retinopathy
National Diabetes Week
In 2016, National Diabetes Week will be 10-16 July and Diabetes Australia is highlighting the tragedy of diabetes-related amputations. For optometry, our focus is on the eyes where diabetes can cause many issues, the most common of which is Diabetic Retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when changes in blood glucose levels cause changes in retinal blood vessels. In some cases, these vessels will swell up and leak fluid into the rear of the eye in a condition called macular oedema. In other cases, abnormal blood vessels will grow on the surface of the retina.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include sudden changes in vision, blurred vision, eye floaters and spots, double vision and eye pain. However, in many cases, particularly in the early stages, patients may not have any noticeable symptoms at all. This is where regular visits to your GP, and the optometrist, are important.
The Dilated Retinal Exam
As part of your comprehensive eye exam, your optometrist will look out for signs of diabetic retinopathy, such as changes to the retinal blood vessels. Often, patients are unaware of these symptoms until they have progressed significantly. In some patients, these physical changes to the blood vessels are the first sign that they have diabetes and the optometrist will refer them to their GP for further diagnosis and treatment.
Early detection is vital to preventing ensuring you get the right treatment as soon as possible.
For diabetic patients, a dilated retinal exam is recommended once a year and includes a digital retinal photo. This image is used as a baseline to monitor changes over time and can be shown to the patient and the patient’s GP to better understand your condition.
At theOPTOMETRIST, we provide more than just a prescription check. This is because there are many conditions which can affect the health of your eyes and, in most cases, early detection is vital to reducing the progression of the disease. If you have any questions about annual eye exams for diabetic patients, please contact us either online or by phone on 8560 0560.