Diabetic retinopathy can be detected during a dilated eye exam by an
optometrist. An exam by your primary doctor, during
which your eyes are not dilated, is not an adequate substitute for a full exam
done by an ophthalmologist. Eye exams for people with
diabetes can include:
Visual acuity testing. Visual acuity testing measures the eye's ability to focus and
to see details at near and far distances. It can help detect vision loss and
Ophthalmoscopy and slit lamp exam.
These tests allow your doctor to see the back of the eye and other structures
within the eye. They may be used to detect clouding of the lens (cataract), changes in the
retina, and other problems.
Gonioscopy. Gonioscopy is used to find out whether the
area where fluid drains out of your eye (called the
drainage angle) is open or closed. This test is done
if your doctor thinks you may have
glaucoma, a group of eye diseases that can cause
blindness by damaging the
This test measures the pressure inside the eye, which is called intraocular
pressure (IOP). It is used to help detect glaucoma. Diabetes can increase your
risk of glaucoma.
Your doctor may also do a test called
an optical coherence tomography (OCT) to check for fluid in your retina. Sometimes a fluorescein angiogram is done to check for and locate leaking
blood vessels in the retina, especially if you have symptoms, such as blurred
or distorted vision, that suggest damage to or swelling of the retina.
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Fundus photography can track changes in the eye over time in people who
have diabetic retinopathy and especially in those who have been treated for it.
Fundus photography produces accurate pictures of the back of the eye (the
fundus). An eye doctor can compare photographs taken at different times to
watch the progression of the disease and find out how well
treatment is working. But the photos do not take the place of a full eye exam.
Early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy can help prevent vision loss. For people in whom
diabetic retinopathy has not been diagnosed, the American Diabetes Association
recommends that screening be done based on the following guidelines:1
type 1 diabetes who are age 10 and older should have
a dilated eye exam within 5 years after diabetes is diagnosed and then every
type 2 diabetes should have an exam as soon as
diabetes is diagnosed and then every year.
If your eye exam results are normal, your doctor may consider
follow-up exams every 2 to 3 years. But if you are diagnosed with retinopathy, you may need frequent eye exams.
Women who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and who are planning to become pregnant should
have an exam before becoming pregnant, if possible, and then once during the
first 3 months (first trimester) of pregnancy. The eye doctor can decide
whether you need further screening for retinopathy during pregnancy based on
the results of the first-trimester exam.
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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
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