Optometry a Key to Identifying Diabetes

By Jack Gerard from In The Cloud Copy

When it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes, many consider this to fall under the role of a primary care provider or diabetes care specialist. Often overlooked is the key role that optometrists and others within the vision field can play in diagnosing and identifying diabetes and related conditions. This is due in part to how diabetes can affect vision. Because vision problems are often a complication of diabetes, ODs and other providers can be an important asset in identifying diabetes and ensuring that a patient receives the care that they need to manage it.

Diabetes and Vision

Though some of its other symptoms are more well known, diabetes has a number of effects on the eyes and vision. As an individual’s diabetes progresses, it can have both short-term and long-term effects on vision. Blurry vision is a common sign of diabetes, and elevated blood sugar levels over an extended period of time can damage blood vessels in the retina to cause additional vision problems. In cases of severe diabetes, significant vision loss or even blindness can result. Because of the sensitivity of the eyes to elevated blood sugar and other issues present with diabetes, an OD can not only aid in the diagnosis of some types of diabetes and related problems but can also play an important part in monitoring the progression of the disease.

Identifying Diabetes Variants

While most people are familiar with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, there are variants of these two types of the disease that many are not aware of. These include variants such as latent autoimmune diabetes of adulthood (LADA), a Type 1 variant that develops later in life and which often presents with low BMI, high blood sugar, and symptoms typically associated with abnormal thyroid function. There are also atypical forms of Type 2 diabetes which often present with mild symptoms, but which can cause significant harm over time if left untreated. Both typical forms of diabetes and some of these less common forms can present with vision symptoms, however, and as such, may be noticeable by an optometrist or other vision specialist before the symptoms become significant enough to warrant a diabetes screening from other doctors.

Importance of Vision Care

Whether a patient has been diagnosed with diabetes or not, vision care is extremely important. For those with diabetes, regular vision checkups can help track the progress of the disease by monitoring the condition of the retina and blood vessels within the eye. For those who have never been diagnosed with diabetes, vision screenings can serve as an early warning for developing problems. This becomes even more important as a patient ages, as there are other conditions that can be monitored or detected through regular eye exams as well.

Expanding Role of Optometric Providers

While it is not the sole responsibility of an OD to identify diabetes or implement care options, it is important not to overlook their potential role in the process. Patients should share relevant information with their optometrist just as they would their PCP or other doctor. By making sure that the doctor has information about their lifestyle and other possible symptoms, patients can significantly improve the quality of their care and enable the doctor to better understand whether they are experiencing diabetes-related vision changes.

Check out the original story here.


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