A Retina Specialist on How People Living with Diabetes Can Protect Their Vision
Diabetes is a big deal, and diabetic vision loss is a huge part of that. The eyes are uniquely sensitive to diabetes, and diabetic eye disease causes more blindness than anything else in our country in the population between the ages of about 20 and 75. That's a huge problem in this country and around the world.
Diabetes is an insidious slowly progressive disease where, for years, people with diabetes can have normal eyes and normal vision, but the problems inside of the eyes creep up slowly in most cases, we think over months to years, and so many patients aren't aware that these problems are developing 'cause many patients don't get the screening that they need, and therefore, many patients present when it's already in an advanced state.
All of the data shows that type 2 diabetics should get screened at the time of diagnosis. Type 1 diabetics, in my recommendation, should also be screened at the time of diagnosis unless they're in the pediatric range, then I think they can wait 'til about the age of 11 and then really all diabetics should get about an annual eye exam at the very least and more than that if they have significant findings of diabetic retinopathy.
But the critical issue is you need to be able to get a comprehensive, dilated eye exam. That's really what you want to get for eye screening. Optometrists, ophthalmologists, both of those categories of eye care professionals can perform this. The question to ask when you're looking to get screened by an eye care professional is do you do diabetic eye screenings? Do you do a dilated, comprehensive eye exam?
The critical issue to remember here as a patient or a provider for patients with diabetes. Early diabetic retinopathy and early DME, even advanced states of both of those in some cases can be completely asymptomatic. That's why screening in this disease is so, so important. You can have significant ocular disease and feel like your vision is normal. That's why it's so important to screen.