Diabetic Eye Care
Diabetes can harm your eyes in a number of ways. It can damage the small blood vessels in your retina, which is the back part of your eye. This condition is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes also increases your risk for cataracts, glaucoma, and other eye problems.
You may not notice anything wrong with your eyes or vision until the condition is in its advanced stages. That is why it’s important that you see your eye doctor and get regular annual eye exams.
If your doctor finds eye problems early, drugs and other treatments may help prevent your vision from getting worse over time. For an overview of diabetes and how it begins to affect your vision, please view the video below:
The Importance of Regular Eye Exams
If you have diabetes, you should have an eye exam by an eye doctor every year. Choose an eye doctor who understands the dangers of diabetes for eye health. At Nevada Eye Physicians your eye exam may include:
- Dilating your eyes to allow a good view of the entire retina.
- Special photographs of the back of your eye.
Depending on the health of your eyes, the team at Nevada Eye Physicians may schedule you for more than one eye care visit each year. Please review the following video to see how diabetic retinopathy develops:
Hemoglobin A1c Testing also called HbA1c
Another important exam is the Hemoglobin A1c Test for measuring your blood sugar over the past two to three months. It takes the average of your blood sugar over that amount of time and helps make the necessary adjustment in your diabetes medicines.
What is Hemoglobin?
Hemoglobin is found in red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout your body. When your diabetes is not controlled (meaning that your blood sugar is too high), sugar builds up in your blood and combines with your hemoglobin, becoming "glycated." The average amount of sugar in your blood can be found by measuring your hemoglobin A1c level. If your glucose levels have been high over recent weeks, your hemoglobin A1c test will be higher.
What's a Normal Hemoglobin A1c Test?
For people without diabetes, the normal range for the hemoglobin A1c test is between 4% and 5.6%. Hemoglobin A1c levels between 5.7% and 6.4% indicate increased risk of diabetes, and levels of 6.5% or higher indicate diabetes.
Because studies have repeatedly shown that out-of-control diabetes results in complications from the disease, the goal for people with diabetes is a hemoglobin A1c less than 7%. The higher the hemoglobin A1c, the higher the risks of developing complications related to diabetes.
People with diabetes should have this test every 3 months to determine whether their blood sugars have reached the target level of control. Those who have their diabetes under good control may be able to wait longer between the blood tests, but experts recommend checking at least 2 times a year.
People with diseases affecting hemoglobin, such as anemia, may get abnormal results with this test. Other abnormalities that can affect the results of the hemoglobin A1c include supplements such as vitamins C and E and high cholesterol levels. Kidney disease and liver disease may also affect the result of the hemoglobin A1c test.
Managing your diabetes well will help keep your eyes healthy. Most importantly:
- Control your blood sugar levels. High blood sugars increase your risk of having eye problems.
- Control your blood pressure. Blood pressure less than 130/80 is a good goal for people with diabetes.
- Have your blood pressure checked often and at least twice per year.
- If you take drugs to control your blood pressure, be sure to take them as prescribed.
- Do not smoke. Smoking drastically increases your eye health risks associated with diabetes.
- Ask your doctor about any rigorous activities (weightlifting, impact sports) that may raise your risk of eye damage.
If you or a loved one is suffering from any of these problems or hasn’t had their eyes checked in over a year, schedule an appointment with one of our highly experienced eye doctors at Nevada Eye Physicians today!