Diabetic Eye Exam


We understand that living with diabetes presents its challenges, one of which can be diabetic eye disease, a common complication of diabetes. It’s not just about maintaining blood sugar levels; it’s also about protecting your vision. At Garibaldi Eye Care, we are committed to providing expert care and proactive management for diabetic eye disease, helping you to see clearly and lead a healthy life.

Understanding Diabetic Eye Disease

Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye conditions that can affect people with diabetes. These conditions include diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema (DME), cataracts, and glaucoma. They all occur due to damage to the delicate blood vessels in the eyes, a complication that can arise from poorly controlled diabetes.

1. Diabetic Retinopathy: Diabetic retinopathy is the most common type of diabetic eye disease. It occurs when high blood sugar levels cause damage to blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. These damaged blood vessels can swell and leak or close off completely. In some cases, abnormal new blood vessels can grow on the retina’s surface. This condition can lead to vision loss and can occur in anyone with type 1 or 2 diabetes.

Diabetic retinopathy has two stages:

  • Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) is the early stage of the disease, where small areas of balloon-like swelling in the retina’s blood vessels occur, often leading to fluid leakage into the retina.
  • Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) is the more advanced stage, where the retina starts growing new blood vessels called neovascularization. These new blood vessels are abnormal and fragile, often leading to leakage of blood into the vitreous, the clear, jelly-like substance that fills the center of the eye, which can cause significant vision loss.

2. Diabetic Macular Edema (DME): DME is a consequence of diabetic retinopathy that specifically affects the macula, the part of the retina responsible for sharp, straight-ahead vision necessary for activities like reading, driving, and recognizing faces. In DME, the damaged blood vessels leak fluid and lipids into the macula, causing swelling and blurry vision. It’s the most common cause of vision loss in people with diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic Eye Disease Risk Factors

Certain factors increase the likelihood of developing a diabetic eye disease, including:

  • Poorly Controlled Blood Sugar Levels: High blood sugar levels can damage the tiny blood vessels in the eyes over time, leading to conditions like diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema.
  • Duration of Diabetes: The longer a person lives with diabetes, the greater their risk of developing diabetic eye disease. The damage to the blood vessels in the eyes is often a result of many years of high blood sugar levels.
  • High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure can exacerbate the damage to the blood vessels in the eyes caused by diabetes, leading to a higher risk of developing diabetic eye disease.
  • Kidney Disease: Diabetic nephropathy or kidney disease is often associated with severe diabetic eye disease. The same factors that lead to kidney disease in diabetes, such as high blood pressure and prolonged high blood sugar levels, can also contribute to eye complications.
  • High Cholesterol Levels: High levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol and low levels of good (HDL) cholesterol can contribute to the development of diabetic retinopathy.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnant women with diabetes are more likely to develop diabetic eye disease and may experience faster disease progression.
  • Smoking: Smoking can increase the risk of diabetes-related health problems, including diabetic eye disease.
  • Ethnicity: People of specific ethnic backgrounds, including Hispanic/Latino, African American, Native American, and Asian American, are at a higher risk of developing diabetic eye disease.

One of the best ways to prevent or slow the progression of diabetic eye disease is through regular eye exams. At Garibaldi Eye Care, we can detect early signs of eye disease, even before symptoms occur, and initiate proactive management to preserve your vision.

Comprehensive Diabetic Eye Exams

At Garibaldi Eye Care, we offer comprehensive diabetic eye exams designed to detect and manage diabetic eye disease in its earliest stages. These exams are much more detailed and thorough than regular vision tests, as they focus on assessing the health of the retina and other eye parts. Here’s what to expect during a comprehensive diabetic eye exam:

  • Medical History Review: We start by reviewing your medical history, including your diabetes management, duration of diabetes, current medications, and any symptoms you might be experiencing. This information helps us understand your risk and tailor your eye care to your needs.
  • Visual Acuity Test: This test measures your ability to see at various distances. You’ll read from a standardized eye chart to determine how well you can see small letters from a specific space.
  • Tonometry: This standard test measures fluid pressure inside the eye to rule out or monitor glaucoma, which people with diabetes are at increased risk of developing.
  • Pupil Dilation: Your eyes will be dilated using special eye drops, allowing us to better look at the retina and optic nerve at the back of your eye. This test is crucial for spotting signs of diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema.
  • Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT): A non-invasive imaging test that uses light waves to take detailed, cross-section retina pictures. It can help us detect changes in the thickness of the retina and the macula, which are indicative of diabetic macular edema.
  • Fundus Photography: This is a specialized imaging test that captures detailed images of the back of your eye, including the retina, optic disc, macula, and posterior pole (the back third of the eye). It aids in documenting and monitoring changes over time.
  • Fluorescein Angiography: In some cases, we may perform fluorescein angiography, where a special dye is injected into your arm, and pictures are taken as the dye circulates through your eyes. This test helps us detect any damaged blood vessels in the retina.

After these exams, we’ll discuss the findings with you, review your treatment options (if necessary), and provide advice on managing your diabetes to protect your vision. We recommend these examinations at least once yearly or more frequently if you have been diagnosed with diabetic eye disease.

Personalized Diabetic Eye Disease Management

At Garibaldi Eye Care, we offer a range of management options for diabetic eye disease. We believe in collaborative care and work closely with your endocrinologist or primary care physician to optimize diabetes control.

We also emphasize lifestyle modifications, such as healthy eating, regular exercise, and smoking cessation, to reduce the risk of worsening eye disease. If necessary, we may recommend medications or intravitreal injections to manage diabetic retinopathy or macular edema.

We design individualized treatment plans based on your specific needs and the severity of your condition, focusing on maintaining your vision and eye health.

Follow-Up and Monitoring

Regular follow-up appointments and monitoring are essential for individuals with diabetic eye disease. We determine the frequency and duration of your follow-up visits at Garibaldi Eye Care to ensure ongoing disease management and early intervention if needed.

Our team closely monitors your disease progression and adjusts your treatment plan as necessary, always striving to optimize your outcomes and protect your vision.

Visit Garibaldi Eye Care Today

Diabetic eye disease is a significant complication of diabetes, and it is crucial to address it early and comprehensively. At Garibaldi Eye Care, we are committed to providing expert care for diabetic eye disease, ensuring proactive management for our patients.

We strongly encourage individuals with diabetes to prioritize regular eye exams. Contact us today to schedule your comprehensive diabetic eye evaluation, and let us be your partner in preserving your vision and eye health.

Contact Us Today To Make an Appointment!

Myopia is one of the most common vision concerns that people have. If you are experiencing blurry vision, you should get evaluated by a trained eye doctor as quickly as possible. That is where we can help you. Our eye doctors will work with you personally to develop a treatment plan. Give us a call today to make an appointment with a member of our team!