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How to Prepare For a Diabetic Eye Exam

How to Prepare For a Diabetic Eye Exam

Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, taking care of your eyes and being aware of vision-related symptoms is more important than ever. Even if you’ve never worn corrective lenses and have never seen an ophthalmologist before, once you get a diagnosis of diabetes, you should see an eye doctor regularly.

At Eye Associates of Monmouth in Colts Neck, New Jersey, our expert ophthalmologist, John Ghobrial, MD, conducts diabetic eye exams to ensure that your eyes stay healthy and that any problems are caught as early as possible. If you have diabetes, the following guide helps you prepare for your diabetic eye exam.

Arrange for a drive home

Before you come in for your appointment, make sure you’ve arranged for somebody to take you home after your examination. To check your eyes thoroughly, we must put drops in your eyes that dilate your pupils.

After your exam, your pupils stay dilated and your vision is blurry for several hours, so you’re not safe to drive yourself home. If a friend or family member isn’t available to take you to and from our office, book a cab or ride share service.

Pay attention to symptoms

Your diabetic eye exam is your time to tell us about any symptoms you might have noticed, to ask questions, and to clear up any confusion you may have about how diabetes affects your eyes. Bring a list of any symptoms or changes you’re experiencing, such as:

  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Distorted vision
  • Loss of vision
  • Dots or dark strings (floaters) in your vision
  • Dark or empty areas of vision
  • Colors look different
  • Trouble focusing

Even if you’re not experiencing vision-related symptoms, that doesn’t mean diabetes isn’t affecting your eyes. Many eye conditions, including diabetic retinopathy, don’t cause symptoms until they’re at an advanced stage.

Catching any disease at an early stage increases your chances of successful treatment and reduces your risk for complications. One complication of untreated diabetes-related eye problems is permanent loss of vision.

Chart blood sugar levels and list concerns about eye health

Part of a diabetic eye exam is taking the patient’s medical history, which includes your blood sugar levels. Because you may forget details once you’re in the middle of your exam, write out your information and questions beforehand. Make a list that includes:

  • When you were diagnosed with diabetes
  • Diabetes medications you’ve taken in the past
  • Medications and supplements — including dosage — you take now
  • Your last few hemoglobin A1C readings 
  • Any other health conditions you have, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure
  • Symptoms related to your eyes or your vision and when the symptoms occur
  • What your blood sugar levels are when you experience those symptoms
  • Any questions you have

For instance, you may want to ask Dr. Ghobrial about what blood glucose levels are considered healthy for your eyes. Anything you do to improve your diabetes, including eating a diet that’s filled with fresh vegetables and fruits, also helps keep your eyes healthy. 

Expect to spend at least an hour

High blood sugar damages your blood vessels, including those in your eyes. That’s why we test you for a variety of eye conditions that diabetics are at increased risk for, including:

  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Diabetic macular edema (DME)
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts

The test for diabetic retinopathy alone may take up to 30 minutes. 

Make regular appointments

Even if the tests show that your eyes are healthy now, you should still book an annual eye exam. Keeping tabs on your eye health with at least annual tests is the best step you can take to keep your vision strong.

If we do identify diabetic retinopathy or another condition, we recommend a treatment plan to protect your eye health. You may need more frequent follow-up exams to be sure that the treatment is working and that your vision doesn’t deteriorate.

Contact our friendly team at Eye Associates of Monmouth to schedule your diabetic eye exam today. You can call our office, send us a secure online message, or book your appointment using our online tool.

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