Your eye health is just as important as the rest of your body. Ideally, you should get your eyes tested every two years. Yet, approximately 27% of UK adults have not booked an eye examination in over two years. Did you know that over 50% of sight loss would be preventable with regular and professional eye tests to avoid, control, and correct certain eye conditions?
Indeed, eye examinations can help improve or maintain your life quality by correcting your vision. They can also detect potentially dangerous conditions, such as glaucoma, that could lead to sight loss. Besides, your optician can also detect other health conditions, such as signs of diabetes in eye exams.
How does Diabetes Affect Eyesight?
Not many people realise the connection between diabetes and eyesight. Diabetes reduces the body’s ability to manage blood sugar. High glucose levels in the blood can affect your eye health, leading to increased eye pressure, swollen or cloudy eye lens, and damage to the small blood vessels on the back of your eye.
The most common diabetes-related eyesight issues include:
- Blurry vision
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Sight loss
How does Diabetes Cause Vision to Blur?
There may be more than one reason why your vision is blurry. Diabetes could be one of them. That’s precisely why it is essential to organise regular eye tests to ensure that you can spot and correct problems before it is too late.
High blood sugar causes the lens inside your eye to swell, which affects your ability to see. Typically, if the problem is spotted early enough, it can be reversed with strategic blood sugar control. To correct diabetic blurry vision, you need to get your glucose level into the healthy range.
If you notice cloudiness in your eye, this could be a sign of a cataract, making your vision blurry. Diabetic individuals are more likely to get it as blood sugar levels can damage the eye’s internal lens.
Blurred vision can also be a symptom of glaucoma. Glaucoma occurs when increased eye pressure traps fluid in the front of the eye. If left unattended, glaucoma can lead to major sight loss.
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy affects the retina: the cells on the back of your eye that absorb the light, create images, and transmit them to the brain via the optic nerve. Damage to the blood vessels in the retina could lead to blindness. Up to 45% of people diagnosed with diabetes type 1 or 2 can experience diabetic retinopathy.
Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
One of the symptoms of this condition is blurred vision. You could also experience eye pain, eye redness, floaters (shapes floating in front of your vision), troubles seeing in the dark, worsening vision over a period of time, and even sudden vision loss. Ultimately, the condition affects the function of the retina.
How do I Know if I have Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy symptoms are not unique and could also apply to other health conditions. An eye test can make a big difference in receiving the appropriate treatment. How can an eye test detect diabetes-related damage to the retina? Typically, you could receive a rapid diagnostic when your optician found something behind your eye, namely damage to the blood cells in the retina.
Additionally, early stages of the condition may not have any symptoms. Therefore, eye screening will help spot problems in your retina to prevent vision loss.
How can My Optician Detect Diabetes?
If you are wondering: Can diabetes be diagnosed by an eye exam, the answer is a partial yes. Opticians can detect signs of vision loss or eye problems caused by diabetes. A blood test run by your GP will confirm the diabetes diagnosis and provide treatment for blood sugar control. However, your optician can also help protect your eye health in the meantime.
How can Opticians Detect Diabetes During an Eye Examination?
Opticians can use two different methods to detect diabetic and other eye conditions in a patient:
- Slit lamp exam
- Optical coherence tomography (OCT)
The slit lamp is a high-intensity light that enables ophthalmologists to examine eyes for anomalies or issues using a microscope. The slit lamp has different filters for different conditions and areas of the eye. Some opticians also capture digital images to track evolutions over time. They can use the slit lamp exam to observe the retina, the lens, etc.
The OCT provides non-invasive imaging cross-section examination of the retina using light waves. The test helps opticians see through all the retina layers and assess its health. For individuals with diabetes, OCT tests can be useful to diagnose conditions such as glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy in advance.
Frequently asked Questions
How Often Should I go for an Eye Exam/check?
Ideally, you should get an eye exam every two years or more frequently if you belong to a high-risk group, such as diabetic patients. Individuals under 16 and over 70 require an annual eye check.
How do I Know if I have an Eye Problem?
Frequent eye exams can help detect anomalies before they become problematic. Many conditions may not show any symptoms until a later phase when your eyesight is significantly affected.
Individuals over the age of 12 with a diabetes diagnosis are encouraged to keep up with eye tests. To answer a popular request: do diabetics get free eye tests and glasses, diabetics are eligible for free annual eye checks and screenings. Yet, you do not necessarily qualify for optical vouchers, depending on your income, allowance, requirements for lenses, and HC2 certificate.
If I suspect an issue with my eye, how do I prevent it from getting worse?
Eye conditions are unlikely to worsen overnight. If you suspect that diabetes affects your eyesight, we recommend seeking eye tests to receive the right treatment to prevent or slow down your condition. You can ask your GP to arrange for a diabetic eye test at Specsavers or other specialist branches. Specsavers are not the only opticians providing free diabetic eye tests.
Belson Opticians Provide Eye Tests in Essex & London
Diabetes can considerably affect your eye health and your vision. Left untreated, diabetes can lead to serious conditions, including sight loss. That’s why it’s essential for patients with diabetes or who suspect a diabetic diagnosis to monitor their eye health closely with the help of a specialist.
At Belson & Sons, we are independent opticians dedicated to delivering excellent eye care for all concerns and conditions. We have years of experience detecting and monitoring diabetic eye conditions through retinal imaging and comprehensive eye tests. Don’t hesitate to arrange for an appointment and find out how we can help protect your eye from diabetic conditions.