How Can an Optometrist Detect Diabetes?

Diabetes, is a chronic disorder that prevents your body from using or making insulin. Cells in the body are unable to convert blood sugar into energy causing glucose to accumulate in the body. When blood sugar gets too high, many parts of the body including the eyes are unable to function optimally. So, how can an eye doctor detect diabetes? The simple answer is that eye specialists can help in diagnosing diabetes very early by detecting one of the most common symptom of diabetes.

Though diabetes is a life-threatening condition, many people walk around with its symptoms for years without knowing until they develop complications from the disease such as blindness or kidney failure. According to the American Diabetes Association, about 21 million people in the US live with diabetes and they do not even know it. The association also project that 54 million people are pre-diabetic. At this stage, they are no symptoms that can be associated with the condition.

Since diabetes is a silent stalker, if you wait until you develop complications, it will be too late. By now you are wondering what you should do to pick the early warning signs of diabetes. The answer lies in visiting your eye doctor for regular exams.

Though diabetes present with many symptoms that often go unnoticed, one common symptom among diabetics is diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is caused by high blood glucose levels which damage the back of the retina.

The retina consists of a layer of cells that are light-sensitive. These convert light into electric signals that are sent to the brain. The brain converts the signals into images which enable you to see.

To function optimally, the retina requires a constant supply of oxygenated blood. This is made possible by a network of small blood vessels that run to and from the retina. When blood sugar levels are continuously high, the tiny blood vessels that form the blood-supplying network to the retina weakens and swells. Over time, the blood vessels get damaged and blood starts leaking into the retina.

Initially, the bleeding is mild and does not affect your sight. With time, the bleeding gets severe and scar tissue develops on blood vessels as well as the retina. At this stage, most people begin to experience vision problems.

When an optometrist or ophthalmologist examine your eyes using a light beam and other special tools, they are able to detect changes in the retina which are characterized by leaking of blood and other fluids in the retina. Basically, there are 2 types of diabetic retinopathy. These are:

Proliferative retinopathy-this condition presents with growth of new blood vessels on the surface of the retina.

Macular edema- it presents with swollen blood vessels that leak fluid into the retina.

Once the eye physician notices bleeding in the retina, they will recommend that you undergo a glucose test to confirm whether you have the condition. In most circumstances, the test confirms that the person experiencing the bleeding has diabetes.

So, have you been wondering, “How can an eye doctor detect diabetes?” Now, you know the answer. With diabetes, the only way to preempt its complication is by detecting it early. And the only way diabetes can be detected before it shuts down most parts of your body is by undergoing regular eye exams.

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