ART OF HEALTHY LIVING: Eye exams critical in diagnosis of diabetes - Tucson Local Media: El Sol

ART OF HEALTHY LIVING: Eye exams critical in diagnosis of diabetes

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Posted: Wednesday, December 31, 2008 12:00 am

Diabetes is becoming an epidemic because of the obesity crisis in the United States. In fact, 17 million Americans suffer from diabetes. Of these people, one-third are unaware that they have the disease, according to a release.

With a dilated, comprehensive eye examination, an optometrist can detect and diagnose diabetes and start patients on the road to treatment. Optometrist Dr. Zainalabidin with Head to Toe Healthcare, reminds you to consider having a comprehensive dilated eye exam.

In that exam, an optometrist can look inside the eye and examine blood vessels directly, detecting signs and symptoms of vascular diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Undiagnosed, diabetes can result in vision impairment, a frequent complication of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and blindness. Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults 20-74 years old. Other vision problems caused by diabetes include vision changes, glaucoma, cataracts and retinopathy.

Part of living with diabetes and successful eye care is having a dilated eye examination on at least an annual basis – “more often if you have existing eye issues or more serious retinopathy,” Zainalabidin said. “Certainly, if you experience any change in vision, you should immediately see your optometrist.”

For someone who has been diagnosed with diabetes, the annual dilated exam is important. Optometrists look at the retina for early signs of diabetic retinopathy, such as leaking blood vessels, retinal swelling (macular edema) and deposits on the retina – all of which are signs of leaking or damaged blood vessels.

An optometrist is an important member of your health care team – particularly if you have been diagnosed with diabetes. If you have risk factors associated with diabetes, consider having a dilated eye examination to control the disease and lower the risk of complications.

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