Diabetes and your Optometrist
Approximately two million people in Canada live with diabetes ever day.  An alarming fact is that many individuals with diabetes have not been diagnosed and are unaware they have the disease. 
Diabetes prevents your body from making or using insulin, which leads to increased sugar levels in your bloodstream.  Diabetes uncontrolled or poorly controlled can lead to serious complications, vision loss, and premature death.  
What are my vision risks?
Diabetes can cause changes in your vision and can result in early cataracts and glaucoma.  The most serious eye problem is diabetic retinopathy, a weakening or swelling of the tiny blood vessels in your eye’s retina. This can lead to bleeding or thickening within the retina.  If diabetic retinopathy is left untreated or undetected, serious vision loss and blindness can result.
Your Optometrist’s role   
Early signs of diabetes can be detected during a comprehensive optometric exam with dilation.  If you already have diabetes, your eyecare professional can diagnose potential vision- threatening changes in your eyes that may – if treated – prevent blindness.  In fact, just having your annual eye exam will reduce the risk of vision threatening retinopathy by 50%!
Treating diabetic retinopathy 
Early detection of diabetic retinopathy is crucial because successful treatment is more likely in the initial stage.  Early on, this condition is monitored through dilated eye health exams.  A variety of therapies may be prescribed including laser therapy, ocular injections, or, in extreme cases, eye surgery. 
Prevent related eye problems
Monitor and maintain control of your diabetes.  Consult your physician regularly and follow instructions about diet, exercise and medication.  Watch and monitor your daily fasting blood sugars. 
See your Optometrist for a thorough dilated eye exam when you are first diagnosed as a diabetic, and at least annually thereafter.  Remember, OHIP covers diabetics to encourage good ocular health monitoring.   
Even if you don’t notice any problems, have your eyes examined annually by your Optometrist.  Let us help!
SARNIA FAMILY OPTOMETRY is a member of Eye Recommend, Canada's Vision Care Professionals, helping doctors help their patients since 1997. We are proud to be able to help Canadians maintain optimal eye health.
For more information, link to the Canadian Diabetes Association, www.diabetes.ca.