Diabetic Eye exam

Diabetes eye exams

slit lamp exam
Diabetes can harm your eyes by damaging the small blood vessels in your retina, or the back of your eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy which can be non-proliferative (earlier, no new vessel growth) or proliferative (more advanced, new vessel growth) in nature.

Diabetes also increases your risk of glaucoma and other eye problems.

You may not know your eyes are harmed until the problem has progressed to a serious level. Your doctor can catch problems early if you get regular eye exams.

You Need Regular Eye Exams

Even if the doctor who takes care of your diabetes checks your eyes, you need an eye exam every year by an eye doctor who takes care of people with diabetes.

If you have eye problems because of diabetes, you will probably see your eye doctor more often.

What Is a Dilated Retinal Exam?

Simulation of vision with diabetic retinopathy

The doctor will check your vision using a chart of random letters of different sizes. This is called the Snellen chart.  Your eye pressures are also check as a screening test for glaucoma.

You will then be given eye drops to dilate your eyes so that the doctor can better see the back of the eye. You may feel stinging when they are first placed.

To see the back of your eye, the doctor looks through a special lens using a bright light. The doctor can then see areas that may be damaged by diabetes:

  • Blood vessels in the front or middle parts of the eye
  • The back of the eye (retina)
  • The optic nerve area

DiabeticRetinopathy diagram 2

Another device called a slit lamp is also used to examine the front part of your eye.

The doctor may take photos of the back of your eye to get a more detailed exam.

After Your Eye Exam

If you had drops to dilate your eyes, your vision will be blurred for a few hours. It will be harder to focus on things that are near.

Due to the dilation, your eyes will be sensitive to light until the dilation wears off.  Wear sunglasses or shade your eyes until the effects of the drops wear off.

diabetic-retinopathy diagramdilation for diabetes eye exam