No one really looks forward to going to the doctor, but as a person living with type 1 diabetes, the value of an eye exam means so much more to me than most. It means knowing that each year, I’m in a position to be proactive rather than reactive to any complications that may occur.
You know that if you have diabetes, it isn’t an easy job. Its full time, gets tiring and even when you do everything right, you can still have dreaded “complications.” A lot of these problems, resulting from the disease, are silent to start off with. They can creep up on you and steal things you need without you even realizing it, and one of those things is your sight. Yes, it’s true. One of the most common complications related to diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, where your small blood vessels start to grow in an attempt to increase blood flow to your eye. The results can be devastating, but the good news is that if you’re willing to take control of your eyes and go in for preventative care, it can reduce the risk and allow you to get treatment immediately if you ever do start to have complications.
It’s also good to know that if you are a person with diabetes, there are some things you should do before your annual eye exam. First, pay close attention to your blood sugars, and have a general idea of where your blood sugar normally runs. The doctor may want to know how your control is going, and how it is correlating to what is going on with what he looks at during the exam. Second, check your blood sugar at the visit before they refract you. You may not realize that your vision gets blurred when you are having a higher blood sugar, but that will definitely alter any prescription you might need. And most importantly, relax. It can be scary to think about what can be found at a visit, but just knowing about your health helps to take out any worry and gives you the tools you need necessary to take control and stay healthy.
Something else that everyone should know. Your eyes can tell you a lot about your health. For many people, going through a dilated eye exam is the first indicator that they may have diabetes. Retinopathy is one of the first signs of having long term high blood sugars, and it can tell you that maybe you should see your regular doctor for a full check-up. So, whether you have diabetes or you don’t, I highly recommend that you go to your eye doctor for your annual exams. There is so much beauty in this world to see, that no one should ever m iss if they don’t have to.
Written by Lesli Bass
Practice Administrator and Type 1 Diabetic