Texoma Living Well Magazine May/June 2018 - Page 50

A Diabetic’s Checklist for Eye Health Courtesy Key-Whitman Eye Center If you have diabetes or risk factors for the disease, your vision may be in jeopardy. So many diabetics don’t understand that diabetes increases the risk for a number of blinding diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, early cataracts and glaucoma. According to Key-Whitman Eye Center’s Plano eye doctor Faisal Haq, “The good news is that these eye conditions typically can be prevented and safely managed when diagnosed and monitored early on. Open communication between the patient and eye doctor, along with the patient’s primary care doctor or endocrinologist, is the key to protecting eye health.” If you or a family member has been diagnosed with diabetes, it is imperative to take proactive steps to ensure you have good eye health and prevent permanent vision loss. Here is a checklist that’s a place to start! No. 1: Be proactive in seeing your eye doctor. You can be at a higher risk for diabetes if you have a family history of diabetes or other risk factors such as: being overweight, not being physically active three or more times a week and you are of African-American, Hispanic, American Indian or Alaska Native descent. Even if you have not been diagnoses with diabetes yet, but are at risk, plan to see an eye doctor at the following times: • Annually for a dilated eye exam. • Right away if experiencing frequent vision and/or prescription changes, blurry vision or signs of early cataracts (glare symptoms, such as difficulty driving at night or in the sunlight). According to Dr. Haq, “Fluctuating vision – where the vision changes day to day or even hour to hour – is the most common eye-related symptom for diabetes. This occurs because high blood sugar levels can cause the natural lens in the eye to swell. This can also lead to frequent changes in eyeglasses prescriptions, because the swelling often causes a power shift – or prescription change – where vision can go back and forth.” People who have seen their eye doctor multiple times for new glasses should have their blood sugar levels checked. Dr. Haq typically won’t prescribe new glasses for diabetics until their blood sugar levels have stabilized. Individuals who have been diagnosed with diabetes should plan to see an eye doctor at the following times: • Annually, unless your eye doctor advises otherwise. • As directed by your primary care doctor or endocrinologist. • Right away if you notice any vision changes such as blurred vision, double vision, fluctuating vision/prescriptions or glare symptoms (trouble driving at night or in the sunlight). No. 2: Know when to see your primary care physician or endocrinologist. According to the American Diabetes Association, “Some people with type 2 diabetes have symptoms so mild that they go unnoticed,” however, common symptoms of diabetes that should raise red flags and prompt a doctor visit include: • Urinating often. • Feeling very thirsty. • Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating. • Extreme fatigue. • Blurry vision. • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal. • Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1). • Tingling, pain or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2). Your eye doctor may also advise you to schedule an appointment with a primary care doctor or endocrinologist. Why? Eye doctors often uncover symptoms of diabetes during an eye exam even before the patient has been diagnosed with diabetes by a primary care physician. As Dr. Haq explains, “During a comprehensive eye exam, we look for fluctuations in prescriptions, cataracts, that often occur earlier in diabetic patients and diabetic retinopathy, which is the most common sign of diabetes. Retinopathy starts with little hemorrhages and white spots on the retina that indicate poor blood supply. Swelling in the macula and bleeding and scarring in other parts of the retina can also show up during a dilated eye exam or in special pictures we take of the eye.” No. 3: Talk to your primary care doctor or endocrinologist about steps you can take to prevent and/or manage diabetes and vision loss. When Dr. Haq finds symptoms of diabetic eye disease in a patient, he encourages the patient to see a primary care physician or endocrinologist right away to work on getting hemoglobin A1C levels down. “The better patients control their diabetes, the less likely they are to have problems or experience vision loss, which can occur due to early cataracts, diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma,” Dr. Haq says. 50 TEXOMA AREA Living Well Magazine | MAY/JUNE 2018 A Diabetic’s Checklist for Eye Health I Courtesy Key-Whitman Eye Center f you have diabetes or risk factors for the disease, your vision may be in jeopardy. So many diabet- ics don’t understand that diabetes increases the risk for a number of blinding diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, early cataracts and glau- coma. According to Key-Whitman Eye Cen- ter’s Plano eye doctor Faisal Haq, “The good news is that these eye conditions typically can be prevented and safely managed when diagnosed and moni- tored early on. Open communication between the patient and eye doctor, along with the patient’s primary care doctor or endocrinologist, is the key to protecting eye health.” If you or a family member has been diagnosed with diabetes, it is impera- tive to take proactive steps to ensure you have good eye health and prevent permanent vision loss. Here is a check- list that’s a place to start! No. 1: Be proactive in seeing your eye doctor. You can be at a higher risk for diabetes if you have a family history of diabe- tes or other risk factors such as: being overweight, not being physically active three or more times a week and you are of African-American, Hispanic, Ameri- can Indian or Alaska Native descent. 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