I have annual health checks, at least since I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. My GP and later my endo both made a point of explaining the importance of health checks, what they were checking for, and why. Yesterday, I had my eye exam, the first in my list of health checks.
My ophthalmologist screens for glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, cataract and eyesight changes. Starting last year, he added a visual field test to his checklist. I don’t look forward to the visual field test (the test for each eye goes on for only a few minutes but strains the eyes) or to the dilated eye examination (the ophthalmologist dilates your eyes, then shines a really bright light so he can look at each retina). But, I know that they are important for the early detection of eye related problems. The good news is that I show no signs of eye problems, apart from my poor vision which I was born with (but my vision has not deteriorated since I was diagnosed).
I have my regular eye checks because my doctors took the time to explain the necessity. But I’ve just read an article on Medical News Today that a large number of diabetics in the US are not aware of the risk to eye health and do not have regular eye exams. I don’t know what the stats are in other countries, but I don’t think they are that different.
A comprehensive eye exam is an important part of a diabetic’s treatment protocol because we are at a higher risk of developing certain eye diseases due to our condition. Uncontrolled diabetes may lead to diabetic retinopathy due to damages in the blood vessels in the retina. Diabetics may develop cataract at an earlier age, or are twice as likely to develop glaucoma, than people without diabetes. These eye problems are likely to lead to serious loss of vision or even blindness.
I’m not saying that diabetes will definitely lead to eye problems. But, the chances of that happening increase if we don’t control our diabetes by keeping our blood sugar level below a certain threshold. The risk also increases if we don’t catch early signs of these complications and intervene. Hence, regular eye exams are crucial for our eye health.
I’ve just read that November is also Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month. Don’t ask me who declared it so, but it’s a good reminder for us to have our eyes checked. If you have not had a comprehensive eye exam since you were diagnosed, or you have not had it in a while, please put it on your to-do list, now.