Diabetes Awareness (WZBN News)

November is Diabetes National Awareness Month, and it is well known that diabetes can negatively impact vision, possibly causing blindness. Comprehensive eye examinations can be the first line of detection for diabetes because eyes are the only part of the body where blood vessels can be seen without having to look through the skin; eye dilation is a non-invasive, routine procedure to help detect this disease.

Dr. Ivan Lee discusses in detail how optometrists check the front surface of the eye to determine if there are any symptoms of diabetes on that surface. In addition, diabetic retinopathy, where the disease causes progressive damage to the light-sensitive lining at the back of the eye, can be discovered during this routine checkup. Dilating drops are placed in the eyes, opening up the pupils, so that the optometrist can get a clear look at the retina. This very simple process takes minutes, yet the information revealed from it can be vital to the patient.

Some patients have diabetes for more than 10 years but do not show any of the symptoms of disease, so getting a regular checkup may be the only way to find out about the disease in certain cases. Diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness, and diabetes can wreak havoc on blood vessels throughout the body. Once diabetes is detected, it needs to be quickly treated by controlling sugar levels. Dr. Lee emphasized the need to not just rely on regular eye exams but also to get a physical, as undetected diabetes can lead to serious health complications.