How to Prepare for a Diabetic Eye Exam

Did you know that about 9.4% of the population is diabetic? What’s worse is that diabetes can have a devastating effect on your vision. It doesn’t matter whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes because both involve changes to your circulation from high levels of blood sugar, which can cause a condition called diabetic retinopathy. 

Here at our Illinois offices, Dr. Nicholas Rutkowski and his team are dedicated to your eye health. That’s why we’ve compiled this guide to help you prepare for your diabetic eye exam.  

The importance of regular screenings

In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, there are few noticeable symptoms. In fact, you may not even be aware that the condition is developing. However, some symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:

Even if you do notice the symptoms, like blurry vision, you may be attributing them to age. This is quite dangerous, because as you can see, if left untreated diabetic retinopathy can lead to complete vision loss.  

What to expect during your exam

Generally, your exam for diabetic retinopathy will take about 30 minutes to complete. We also screen for some other conditions as well, because diabetic retinopathy can increase your risk for developing glaucoma and cataracts. 

We’ll start your exam with eye drops which cause your pupils to dilate, allowing us to take diagnostic photographs of your retinas. We use a camera that gets close enough to your eye without touching it and you will see bright flashes with each photo that we take. The process is fairly quick, and most people find it comfortably tolerable. 

The eye drops will make your vision blurry, which is normal. But, because the effects can last anywhere from two to six hours, you’ll want to arrange to have a friend, family member, or other transportation to take you home. You’ll also find that you’re more sensitive to light, so you might want to bring a pair of sunglasses for the ride home and the rest of your day.  

After your exam

Testing for diabetic retinopathy typically takes about six weeks for results to return. After we examine your testing results, we’ll give you one of three diagnoses: no signs of retinopathy, stage one (background) retinopathy, or complete diabetic retinopathy. 

If you have diabetic retinopathy, we’ll need to formulate a treatment plan to keep the condition from progressing and manage your symptoms. Otherwise, we’ll need to see you again in a year’s time to perform another exam to ensure that your eyesight is still functioning well. 

If you have diabetes, it’s incredibly important that you get your eyes checked regularly. Call us to schedule an appointment at one of our three convenient locations today. 

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