Do You Have Diabetic Retinopathy? Low Vision Care Can Help You Reclaim Your Quality of Life

Read on to learn more about how low vision care can help you maximize your remaining vision, despite your diabetic retinopathy diagnosis. When it seems like your vision loss has closed doors, low vision care can open windows to create opportunities that didn’t seem possible.

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Table of Contents

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetes can affect vision in a condition called diabetic retinopathy which usually affects both eyes. Approximately 1 out of 3 people with diabetes develops diabetic retinopathy, making it one of the leading causes of vision loss worldwide. An excess of glucose can cause damage to the very small blood vessels in the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, known as the retina. This can lead to all sorts of changes in the eyes varying from unnoticeable symptoms to blindness. There are different stages of this disease varying from the early stages where one can be asymptomatic through the end stage that can cause severe vision loss. There are treatment plans which can slow down or even prevent vision loss if diagnosed early enough, however vision loss that has already occurred from diabetic retinopathy cannot be regained. 

If you are suffering from visual impairment due to diabetic retinopathy and it seems as though the door has been shut on your ability to perform visual tasks, there is no need to despair. Low vision opens the door to a world of possibilities which incorporates your visual abilities that have not been lost in order to be able to enjoy your vision.

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What to Expect at a Low Vision Eye Exam

Low vision is a field devoted to finding solutions despite a visual impairment that is creating obstacles in the way you live your day to day life. When you visit an optometrist for a low vision eye exam, they will do a special eye exam that evaluates your remaining vision, at a distance and from close up. Additionally, your field of vision will be evaluated and your contrast sensitivity will be checked, amongst other low vision tests. You will discuss together which visual tasks you are finding challenging and they will then work with you to find solutions that will enable you to accomplish what you set out to do. 

There are a variety of visual aids that can be extremely useful to help you see despite your diabetic retinopathy diagnosis. If you have a family member or caretaker who is instrumental in helping you with your daily needs, it is highly recommended that they attend the appointment as well. It will give them the opportunity to learn more about your visual impairment so that they can understand how it impacts you functionally, enabling them to support you more effectively.

Visual Challenges Due to Diabetic Retinopathy

Visual Challenges Due to Diabetic Retinopathy

There are characteristic visual impairments caused by diabetic retinopathy which can be greatly helped with low vision, some include:

  • blurred vision
  • spots or lines floating in your visual field
  • decrease in color vision
  • blind spots
  • vision loss
  • difficulty with night vision
  • halos around lights

All of these visual challenges can make it very difficult for a person with diabetic retinopathy to function and accomplish tasks like they used to, prior to being diagnosed. The field of low vision offers many solutions and visual aids to allow a person with diabetic retinopathy reclaim their independence.

Visual Challenges Due to Diabetic Retinopathy

Visual Challenges Due to Diabetic Retinopathy

After the low vision eye exam, your optometrist will discuss various professional solutions with you catered to your individual needs and daily tasks or activities. The visual aids range from simple household products, to special glasses and electronic devices. There are so many possibilities of low vision aids that can help you increase your quality of life and some examples will be discussed here. 

There are many different types of magnifying glasses which can help with central vision loss, such as handheld, standing or spectacle form and they can assist you to zoom in on what you’re trying to read or work on. Telescopes of different kinds are available to help you zoom in on objects that are at a distance, such as the number on a bus approaching from a distance. Filters can improve vision for a person with diabetic retinopathy by increasing contrast sensitivity and reducing glare. E-scoop glasses are a wonderful low vision aid for early stages of visual impairment as it includes many optical features that can help you reclaim your independence despite the vision loss you are experiencing. A device called a CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) has been created to enable you to scan what you’re trying to read onto a screen. The CCTV enlarges the text and can provide various features, including increasing contrast between the text and the background. 

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Low Vision Solutions

Low Vision Solutions

There are companies that invented cutting edge technology which they’re constantly improving, each offering their own unique visual experience that enhances your vision. Some examples include OrCam, IrisVision or eSight, just to name a few. In addition to visual aids, simply adjusting the lighting in your home appropriately, under the guidance of a professional low vision optometrist, can really make an impact on how you see. There are also some simple assistive tools, such as placing rubbery adhesive bumps, known as tactile dots, on different flat buttons around your home to help you find the buttons easier.

Understanding Diabetic Retinopathy

In order to understand how low vision can change lives for the better after being diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, it is essential to understand this eye condition and to know what to look out for. To learn about the different stages of diabetic retinopathy and for more information, click here

Visual Challenges Due to Diabetic Retinopathy
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Common Questions

Diabetic retinopathy occurs in 1 out of 3 diabetics, making it one of the leading causes of vision loss worldwide. It causes changes to your eyes which can lead to visual impairment. The field of low vision offers many soutions to help you cope with this vision loss and reclaim your independence.
Diabetic retinopathy causes low vision through damage to the blood vessels in the retina. High blood sugar levels in diabetic patients can lead to the weakening of these blood vessels, causing them to leak fluid or bleed. This may create swelling, distortion, and scarring in the retina, leading to vision loss or impairment. Early detection through regular low vision exams by a low vision optometrist can help manage and minimize the progression of the disease, emphasizing the importance of proper diabetic eye care.
Diabetic patients with low vision may benefit from various assistive devices tailored to their specific needs. These may include magnifiers, video magnifiers, large-print reading materials, talking glucose meters, and specialized lighting. A low vision eye doctor can conduct a comprehensive low vision exam to determine the most appropriate assistive devices for a patient, ensuring they align with their daily activities and lifestyle.
Vision loss from diabetic retinopathy is generally not reversible, but early intervention and proper management can prevent further loss or slow the progression. Regular monitoring through a low vision exam and working closely with a low vision optometrist and other healthcare providers can help manage blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and other factors that contribute to the disease. Treatment such as laser therapy or anti-VEGF injections may stabilize the condition, emphasizing the importance of regular eye care and collaboration with healthcare professionals.
Do You Have Diabetic Retinopathy? Low Vision Care Can Help You Reclaim Your Quality of Life
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Diabetic retinopathy is a common eye disorder in which diabetes damages one's vision and it is a leading cause of vision loss worldwide. If you have a visual impairment due to diabetic retinopathy, we would be honored to work with you to find solutions and improve your quality of life with low vision care. Please reach out to your nearest Amplify EyeCare practice either via a call or in-person visit for a low vision eye exam. Our team of eye care professionals is ready and equipped to provide you with the care you need.

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