Diabetes is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the United States. Over time, especially when diabetes is uncontrolled, elevated blood sugar levels can damage many organs of the body, especially the eyes. When excess sugar circulates through your bloodstream, it can have a profound effect on the structural integrity of your retinal blood vessels.
This type of ocular damage may develop into diabetic retinopathy, a complicated sight-threatening condition. In particular, people with diabetes also have a higher risk of developing glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic macular edema. If you have diabetes of any type – type 1, type 2, gestational, LADA – contact us for expert diabetic vision care in Downtown Toronto.
Diabetic eye exam in Toronto
The only reliable way to diagnose diabetic eye diseases at an early stage is by visiting your eye doctor for regular eye exams. To perform a comprehensive evaluation of your inner eye tissues, our optometrist will dilate your eyes with topical medications to enlarge your pupil. Using high-powered magnification, we will inspect your retinal tissues and the optic nerve for any changes or signs of deterioration.
According to the ADA, people with type 1 diabetes should visit their eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam within 5 years of diagnosis, and yearly follow-up exams are recommended. People with type 2 diabetes should have a comprehensive eye exam immediately after diagnosis and continue to visit an eye doctor annually. If you have diabetes, contact our eye clinic for diabetic vision care in Downtown Toronto.
Advanced diagnostic technologies we may use for your Toronto diabetic eye exam
- Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT scans) – this noninvasive technique uses a scanning laser and light waves (instead of sound waves, like ultrasound) to generate high resolution pictures of your ocular structures. Medical issues can be identified very early on, and your eye doctor can use the results of OCT scans to design a personalized treatment plan.
- Digital retinal imaging – a quick way to take a highly detailed digital picture of the back of your eye. This image can be used as a baseline to track any changes between eye exams.
- Fundus photography – this specialized microscope is fitted with a camera to photograph your central retina, macula, and optic disc. The precise picture can help your eye doctor to spot the signs of diabetic eye disease.
- Tonometry – we will use tonometry to measure the pressure of your intraocular fluid. Higher than normal levels can indicate glaucoma.
- OPTOS retinal exam – the Optomap® image provides a unique map of your eye and retinal health. It is a quick and painless procedure, and the picture can be reviewed with you immediately on a computer screen.
Diabetic retinopathy – what is it? And how you can help prevent it
People with diabetes are at a higher risk of glaucoma and cataracts, but the chief concern about ocular health is generally diabetic retinopathy. This dangerous condition is the most common cause of blindness among working-age adults.
Diabetic retinopathy has two types: nonproliferative and proliferative retinopathy:
- Nonproliferative retinopathy is more common. In this disease, retinal blood vessels swell and interfere with smooth blood circulation. A leaking of fluid may occur, which leads to macular edema. Treatment involves medication or laser therapy, both of which are usually very effective at preventing vision loss.
- Proliferative retinopathy is an extreme form of the disease and can totally destroy vision. This condition occurs when the eye’s blood vessels are so damaged that they seal shut. New leaky blood vessels then grow in the retina and block clear vision. Eventually, these unhealthy blood vessels may lead to retinal detachment. Laser surgery or a vitrectomy are possible treatments, in which the gel-like substance that supports your eyeball is replaced.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy
In the beginning stages, you may not notice any signs of nonproliferative retinopathy. However, as the disease progresses, blurry vision and black spots are the classic symptoms. This underscores why it is critical to visit our eye clinic routinely for diabetic vision care in Downtown Toronto! Unfortunately, if diabetic retinopathy remains undetected until you suffer vision loss, it is much harder to treat – and the vision loss may be irreversible.
What can increase your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy?
- Poor blood sugar control: Most importantly – your blood glucose control makes a huge difference. Managing blood glucose at safe levels, according to your physician’s guidelines, is the most effective way to prevent diabetic retinopathy. The general recommendation is for people with diabetes to keep their HbA1c at 7.0 or less (the average blood sugar for a three-month span).
- Time: The length of time that you have had diabetes plays a significant role.
- Smoking: If you value your vision – don’t smoke. Smoking can destroy your eyesight.
- Hypertension and High Cholesterol: Maintaining normal blood pressure levels and keeping your blood cholesterol within a healthy range (recommended by your doctor) will also reduce your risk of diabetic retinopathy.
- Pregnancy: Being pregnant contributes to your chances of diabetic retinopathy, which is why we recommend that all pregnant women with diabetes (of any kind) visit our office for a Toronto diabetic eye exam as early in their pregnancy as possible.
How to prepare for your diabetic eye exam in Toronto
To maximize your diabetic eye care, our optometrist encourages you to tell us about any visual concerns you may have. For example:
- If you have been experiencing any symptoms, describe them to us. When do these symptoms occur? The timing may also be significant.
- What is the relationship between your symptoms and blood sugar levels? Was your sugar high or low?
- Do you have any other health issues?
- Are you familiar with the visual warning signs to watch for? Ask us to explain.