Read more about Diabetes

Diabetes is a major health problem and impacts an estimated 2 million New Yorkers.

Generally, food that we eat is broken down into glucose and then travels through the bloodstream. In response to high blood sugar levels, the pancreas releases insulin, an essential hormone that converts sugar into energy for your cells. When someone has diabetes their body either does not create enough insulin or does not react properly to insulin.

What is a Diabetic Eye Exam

For patients with diabetes having frequent eye exams at an eye doctor with the latest technology is critical. Once diabetes progresses to diabetic retinopathy (estimated at 22.7% of people with diabetes) a patient's vision is at increased risk of irreversible vision loss.

At Amplify EyeCare we have invested heavily into the most advanced technology for the identification of diabetic retinopathy and vision complications that can result from this disease. Using advanced retinal imaging called Ocular Coherence Tomography (OCT) and Electroretinography (ERG), our eye doctors have a clear picture of your retinal health and can create a baseline of retinal health to detect cellular stress before cellular death occurs. This is a breakthrough in diabetic eye exams as it allows the patient and the patient's GP to adjust treatment when early signs of cellular damage occur. Learn more about diabetic eye exam.

What are the different types of diabetes?

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the two main types of diabetes.

  • Type 1: In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin, which is the hormone that converts the sugar in the blood into proper energy source for our cells to use. The pancreas either has very little or no insulin at all, and therefore an outside source of insulin is required with daily injections.
  • In type two diabetes, the body has the insulin hormone but it doesn't respond to it properly. As a result, it can't work properly. It removes sugar from our blood and brings it as an energy source to various tissues in our body, thereby also increasing our blood sugar levels.

How does diabetes affect the eyes?

Various types of eye conditions can be caused by diabetes. Having diabetes can lead to diabetic retinopathy, which means the retina in the back of our eye changes. Hence, diabetic individuals may have brittle and weak blood vessels because of the amount of sugar in their bodies, which may lead to their blood vessels breaking. This can lead to bleeding in the back of the eye.

Types of diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy can be classified into two types. Nonproliferative and proliferative diabetic retinopathy.

Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

There are three stages of nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy: mild, moderate, and severe.

As far as non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy is concerned, optometrists typically monitor these patients, make sure that their patients are properly complying with all diabetic medications, and schedule follow-up appointments with their primary care physician and endocrinologist. To keep their blood sugar levels in check, it's crucial to practice a healthy diet and lifestyle. Patient’s awareness of their hemoglobin levels and blood sugar levels is crucial, as the more aware they are, the better able they will be to take proper precaution should any of those levels start to rise.

Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

Another type of diabetic retinopathy is proliferative, in which new leaky blood vessels begin to form. When it becomes proliferative diabetic retinopathy, blood can leak into the retina, causing significant vision loss and in most cases the resulting loss of vision is permanent.

What is Diabetic Macular Edema and How is it treated?

An accumulation of fluid in the macula can lead to diabetic macular edema which can affect the fovea. Diabetic macular edema can cause vision to deteriorate over months, making it difficult to focus clearly. Patients with diabetic macular edema are referred to a retinal specialist. The retinal specialist will administer anti-VEGF injections. In order to prevent leakage and swelling of the retina, this treatment reduces the amount of new blood vessel growth. Another procedure involves using a laser to burn off certain parts of the retina, inhibiting the growth of new blood vessels in that area.

Does Diabetic Retinopathy Cause Glaucoma?

Diabetes affects not only the back but also the front of your eye, so it is vital for anyone with diabetes, whether they have vision loss or not, to see an eye doctor for a diabetic eye exam. It can affect your iris and then it can grow into your angular structure in your eye where that can lead to an increase in eye pressure and can lead to glaucoma. You run a higher risk of developing an array of eye problems with chronically elevated blood sugar levels, including blurry vision, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.

Why is it important to visit your eye doctor if you have diabetes?

Diabetic patients, pre-diabetic patients and especially patients with diabetic retinopathy should always see their eye doctor and undergo a dilated fundus examination every year (or more frequently if recommended by an eye doctor). Your eye doctors will also perform advanced retinal imaging and diagnostics using an Ocular Coherence Tomographer and Electroretinography, which allow for a more accurate exam and earlier detection of issues.
Being compliant with your medications is really important. The results of your diabetic eye exams should be shared with your general care practitioner, as a diabetic eye exam can give a more accurate assessment to your doctor about the efficacy of your current treatment.

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