Why Diabetics Need to See Their Optometrist Regularly to Safeguard Their Sight

November 6, 2020

November is Diabetic Eye Disease Month. The most prevalent form of diabetic eye disease is diabetic retinopathy, which can cause damage to the retina due to too much sugar being in the blood. That's why it's extremely important for those with diabetes to visit their eye doctor regularly, as it will help safeguard their vision for years to come.


Roughly 500,000 Canadians suffer from diabetic retinopathy. The most common form of diabetic eye disease, diabetic retinopathy, causes damage to the retina, which can result in vision loss or impairment. It can afflict those with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes and may not present any symptoms in the early stages, which is why it is so important for those who are diabetic to see their optometrist at least once a year.

When symptoms are present, they include:

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Why Diabetics Need to See Their Optometrist Regularly to Safeguard Their Sight

Because diabetic retinopathy may initially develop with no symptoms, it's vitally important that those who have diabetes visit their optometrist at least once a year for a comprehensive eye exam with dilation. This will allow them to stay on top of their eye health and identify any eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy early on, so an effective course of treatment may be prescribed. 

It's also important that those with diabetes know the difference between a vision assessment and an eye exam. The former is focused solely on evaluating the state of your vision but does not include any examination of your eye's health and condition, whereas the latter encompasses both. 

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What Causes Diabetic Retinopathy?

When there's too much sugar in the blood, the blood vessels which supply the retina can become blocked. When this happens, and the blood supply is effectively cut off to the retina, the eye will try to grow new blood vessels to counteract the problem. Unfortunately, these new blood vessels do not develop as they should, making them prone to leaking. 

This leaking can lead to a host of complications within the eye, including:

How Can You Prevent Diabetic Retinopathy?

The best way to prevent diabetic retinopathy is to keep your blood sugar levels consistently in an acceptable range, as your chances of developing this eye condition increase in relation to how long you've had diabetes, along with how uncontrolled your blood sugar levels are. Other tips to help prevent diabetic retinopathy include:

If You're Diabetic, Never Delay Seeing Your Optometrist

Even if your vision is functioning perfectly and you have no other issues with your eyes, if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, we strongly recommend that you see your optometrist at least once a year. This ensures you have not developed diabetic retinopathy, which can be proven through a comprehensive eye exam. Given there are usually no symptoms at first with this eye condition, and the complications that can arise from it are extremely serious and could potentially lead to blindness, seeing your optometrist regularly is your best bet to safeguard your vision and eye health for the remainder of your life.


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If you have any questions or concerns about your eye health or vision, My Optometrist Calgary has you covered with our advanced eye care. Contact one of our My Optometrist Calgary clinics at either 403-256-0606 (Health First Optometry), 403-291-0923 (Sunridge Vision Centre), or 403-443-2040 (Three Hills Optometry).

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