Queensway Optometric Centre
101 Queensway W Suite 140 Mississauga ON L5B 2P7 (905) 848-2020
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Mississauga, Ontario
1 (905) 848-2020

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Why Do Diabetes Patients Need Regular Eye Exams so Badly?

Most people with diabetes have heard that they need to have their eyes checked on a regular basis. But how many of them actually know why?

Diabetes has such a profound impact on your general health and usually creates symptoms that are noticeable and urgent. So it makes sense that people forget about the impact diabetes can have on their eyes, particularly when symptoms are seldom noticed until they’ve already lost a significant portion of their vision. 

I’m of the opinion that, if patients with diabetes understand exactly what diabetes does to their eyes, they’re more likely to stick to a regular eye exam schedule. So let’s dive into diabetes and find out exactly how it can impact your vision.

How Does Diabetes Affect Vision?

Diabetes makes it difficult for your body to regulate your blood sugar. After a while, high blood sugar can damage the delicate blood vessels in your eyes, which leads to diabetic eye disease

Can I Go Blind From Diabetes?

The unfortunate short answer is yes; you can go blind from diabetes-related eye issues. However, that’s not to say that you will go blind. If you monitor your blood sugar and keep it under control as much as you can, your eyes are less likely to sustain damage.

Beyond that, seeing your optometrist as often as needed will help ensure any potential eye health concerns are detected and treated early, preserving more of your vision.

Diabetic Eye Disease

The term diabetic eye disease is really a catch-all phrase to describe any eye disease that develops as a result of diabetes. More often than not, diabetic eye disease refers to diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema.

Diabetic Retinopathy

As high blood glucose levels damage the blood vessels in the retina, they can start to leak blood and fluid into the eye. Your eye may try to replace these damaged blood vessels by growing new ones; however, the new blood vessels are weak and irregular and can create scar tissue, which impacts your vision.

Diabetic Macular Edema

If diabetic retinopathy is untreated, it can develop into diabetic macular edema. The macula is a small area of the retina that’s responsible for your central vision, which allows you to read words and recognize facial features. 

As damaged retinal blood vessels continue to leak, the retina swells. The swelling continues to worsen until the macula is completely obscured by the inflamed retinal tissue.

Symptoms to Watch For

While diabetic eye disease does present symptoms, most noticeable symptoms don’t appear until your eyes have already undergone significant damage, which is why it’s so important to see your optometrist regularly.

Symptoms of diabetic eye disease may include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Dark spots
  • Compromised colour vision
  • Inconsistent vision
  • Vision loss

Understanding the Risk Factors

In addition to diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema, diabetes increases your risk of developing a number of other eye diseases.  If you are living with diabetes, you are more likely to develop:

  • Glaucoma
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Cataracts

How Often Should I Really Visit My Optometrist?

If you have diabetes, you need to see your optometrist at least once a year. While your general practitioner may perform basic vision testing, this will not be enough to catch diabetic eye disease in its early stages.

Your optometrist has access to specialized testing equipment that can evaluate your retinal health and potentially save your eyesight before you notice any vision loss. Of course, you should continue to see your family doctor, but you need to see your optometrist as well.

It’s important to note that annual eye exams are just a baseline. If you have already developed vision issues due to diabetes, or have other risk factors in play, your optometrist may want to see you more often. It’s absolutely crucial is that you see your optometrist exactly as often as they recommend. It’s the best and only way to protect your eyesight from diabetes-related damage.

Written by Karen Stafford

Dr. Stafford graduated from the University of Waterloo in 2008 with her Honours Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Optometry degrees and was on the Dean’s Honours List. She also completed an ocular disease internship at the Scarborough Eye Associates. Upon graduation, she worked at the Bramalea Optometric Clinic for two years, before joining the Queensway Optometric Centre team in 2010.

Though Dr. Safford enjoys providing comprehensive eye exams for patients of all ages, her areas of interest are laser refractive surgery and children’s vision. She is currently a consultant at TLC Laser Centre Mississauga and is the Ontario Association of Optometrists Peel Lead for the Eye See, Eye Learn program. This program emphasizes the importance of regular eye exams for children in junior kindergarten and thereafter.

Dr. Stafford and her husband have two daughters: Katelyn and Makayla. She enjoys spending time with her family, travelling, and playing sports.

More Articles by Karen Stafford

Finding Us
Is Easy

Our practice is conveniently located across the street from the Trillium Health Partners Mississauga Hospital.

Queensway
Optometric Centre

101 Queensway West, Suite 140
Mississauga, Ontario, L5B 2P7

Contact Information

Phone: 1 (905) 848-2020
Email: [email protected]

Business Hours

Monday:8:00 AM - 6:30 PM
Tuesday:8:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Wednesday:8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday:8:00 AM - 6:30 PM
Friday:8:00 AM - 3:30 PM
Sunday:Closed

Open Select Saturdays Only
9:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Next Saturday Opening(s)

  • Nov 9,
  • Nov 23,
  • Dec 7,
  • Dec 21

EXPERIENCING AN EYE EMERGENCY? CALL NOW!

Sometimes you need to see the optometrist right away. If you have an ocular emergency, call our office at 1(905) 848-2020. We can see patients for emergency appointments on short notice, so please don’t wait!

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