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What is Diabetic Eye Care?

Regular diabetes eye exams and more ways to protect your vision

If you have diabetes, taking great care of your overall health is a powerful way to take care of your eyes and vision! In general, controlling blood sugar levels within the parameters your doctor tells you can help you avoid all diabetes-related complications. Additionally, regular visits to our Fort Worth, Texas, eye doctor will ensure that any problems in your eyes are detected early, enabling early treatment to prevent vision loss.

Diabetes and Your Eyes

If you run high blood sugars, it will damage the tiny blood vessels in your eye over time – leading to a dangerous eye disease called diabetic retinopathy. Elevated blood sugars can also lead to glaucoma and cataracts, all sight-threatening ocular diseases that are more common in people with diabetes.

Be Aware of Diabetic Eye Care

Fortunately, vision loss from diabetes is not inevitable! There are plenty of proactive measures you can take to control your diabetes and protect your eyes. For example:

Visit your eye doctor for yearly comprehensive eye exams

During your eye exam in Fort Worth, Texas, our eye doctor will use dilating eye drops to enlarge your pupil and check the blood vessels at the back of your eye for any early signs of a problem. We can recommend treatment to help prevent serious damage.

Keep blood sugar levels under control

By maintaining healthy blood glucose levels, you can slow any damage to the small blood vessels in your eyes. In general, your A1c blood test (an average of blood sugars over the past 2-3 months) should be 7% or less.

Keep blood cholesterol levels healthy

A simple blood test can assess how much “good” HDL cholesterol and how much “bad” LDL you have. If you have too much LDL, you are at an increased risk of damage to your blood vessels.

Control high blood pressure

Hypertension also puts you at a higher risk for eye disease. When you visit your doctor, be sure to get your blood pressure checked. Ideally, it should be less than 130/80.

Exercise

Not only does exercise have positive effects on your blood sugar, it also keeps your blood flowing and promotes overall health – including visual health.

Eat nutritiously

If making healthy food choices doesn’t come naturally to you, consult with a nutritionist. The best foods to reach for are fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein. If you inject insulin or take medications, you’ll need to match all the food you eat to your medicine regimen; consult with your doctor to design the most effective plan.

Don’t smoke

Puffing on a cigarette can lead to problems with your blood circulation, which directly raises your risk of eye trouble.

Diabetes and Signs of an Eye Emergency

If you experience any of the following, seek medical assistance as soon as possible:

  • Loss of sight in one or both eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Sudden appearance of black spots
  • Flashes of light

Some signs and symptoms are reasons to call our Fort Worth, Texas, eye care center for emergency diabetic eye care. It’s never smart to put your vision at risk, especially if you have diabetes.

At Eagle Mountain Family Eye Care, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 817-769-6601 or book an appointment online to see one of our Fort Worth eye doctors.

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Does Obesity Impact Eye Health?

Nation-wide awareness about the vast dangers of obesity is at an all-time high, with TV shows like “The Biggest Loser” and health initiatives such as Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign shining a spotlight on the importance of fitness and good nutrition. However, despite the public’s knowledge of obesity’s effects on hypertension, stroke, and diabetes, many are not aware of how it damages eye health and vision.

Increasing evidence shows that people who are clinically obese have an elevated risk of developing serious eye diseases. It is widely known that expanding waistlines place people at a higher risk of getting diabetes, heart disease, and cancer — but researchers say the link between obesity and deteriorating vision is the “risk factor that no one talks about”. Professor Michael Belkin and Dr. Zohar Habot-Wilner, from the Goldschleger Eye Institute at the Sheba Medical Center, found a consistently strong correlation between obesity and the development of four major eye diseases that may cause blindness: 

  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetic retinopathy

The researchers said that although the evidence was out there suggesting a link between obesity and these conditions, their study emphasizes the optometric risks of obesity which can help motivate people to shed those extra pounds.

How Obesity Contributes to Eye Disease

A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 is considered overweight and above 30 is regarded as obese. A high BMI is tied to several chronic systemic health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke, among others. Recent research indicates that a handful of ocular diseases can now be added to that list. 

Serious eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration are more common in individuals with obesity, as well as floppy eyelid syndrome, retinal vein occlusions, thyroid-related eye diseases, and stroke-related vision loss. 

The connection between obesity and these eye diseases is likely due to the increased risk of peripheral artery disease. This occurs when the tiny blood vessels bringing oxygen to parts of your body like the feet, kidneys, and eyes become compromised.

Your eyes are particularly prone to damage from obesity because the blood vessels in the eyes (called arterioles) are easily blocked, since they’re extremely thin and small — as thin as ½ the width of a human hair! 

Most people are not aware that obesity may increase the rate of developing cataracts, too. Cataracts result when the focusing lens in the eye becomes cloudy and requires surgery to be replaced. In addition to age, cataract development is associated with obesity, poor nutrition, gout, diabetes and high blood sugar levels, though the exact cause isn’t clear.

A Healthy Lifestyle Can Reduce Your Risk of Ocular Disease

Knowing about the risk of vision loss may give those with a high BMI the extra motivational boost they need to lose weight. The good news is that a few lifestyle changes can reduce the associated risks.

An active lifestyle and a balanced, nutritious diet lower obesity and improve overall physical and eye health. Give your body a boost by incorporating important nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, zeaxanthin, omega 3, zinc, and lutein, many of which are found in green leafy and dark orange vegetables, as they have been shown to reduce the onset, progression, and severity of certain eye diseases. 

We Can Help Keep Your Eyes Healthy in Fort Worth

While a healthy diet and regular exercise greatly increase your chances of living a disease-free long life, they alone are not enough to ensure long term healthy eyesight. Regular eye exams with Dr. Miller can help prevent or detect the onset of ocular disease, and maintain vision that is clear and comfortable.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your vision or eye health, don’t hesitate to call Eagle Mountain Family Eye Care — we’re here for you. 

3 Ways Diabetes Can Affect Your Vision and Eyes

Did you know that people with diabetes are 20 times more likely to get eye diseases than those without it? There are three major eye conditions that diabetics are at risk for developing: cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. To prevent these sight-threatening diseases, it’s important to control your blood sugar level and have your eyes checked at least once a year by an eye doctor. 

But First, What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that is associated with high blood glucose levels. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps our cells get energy from the sugars we eat. Diabetes develops when the body doesn’t produce or respond to insulin effectively, leaving too much sugar in the blood stream instead. Over time, diabetes can lead to potentially irreversible ocular damage and poor eyesight. However, by taking care of your blood sugar levels and your eyes, you can prevent vision loss.

Annual eye exams are recommended for everyone, but routine screenings are even more important for diabetics. Eye doctors may send diabetic eye health reports to a patient’s primary care physician or internist to adjust medication as needed to prevent complications.

What’s the Link Between Vision and Diabetes? 

Blurred vision or fluctuating eyesight clarity is often one of the first noticeable signs that diabetes has begun to affect your eyes. Sometimes, fluid leaking into the eye causes the lens to swell and change shape. This, in turn, makes it difficult for the eyes to focus, resulting in fuzzy vision. Such symptoms can indicate that an eye disease is developing, or may simply be due to imbalanced blood sugar levels which can be rectified by getting your blood sugar back to healthy levels. 

If you start to notice blurry vision, make an appointment with Dr. Miller as soon as possible.

The 3 Ways Diabetes Impacts Vision 

Cataracts

While cataracts are extremely common and a part of the natural aging process, those with diabetes tend to develop cataracts earlier in life. Characterized by a clouding or fogging of the lens within the eye, cataracts impede light from entering the eye, causing blurred vision and glares. The best treatment is cataract surgery, which is very safe and effective. 

Glaucoma

Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases characterized by optic nerve damage. Since it tends to impact peripheral vision first, glaucoma often goes unnoticed until significant damage has occurred. However, routine glaucoma screenings can detect warning signs; early treatment can prevent disease progression and vision loss. 

Although there is no true cure for glaucoma, most glaucoma patients successfully manage it with special eye drops, medication, and on occasion, laser treatment or other surgery. The earlier glaucoma is diagnosed and managed, the better the outcome.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the small blood vessels on your retina (capillaries) become weakened and then balloon (microaneurysm) due to poorly controlled blood sugar levels. The resulting poor blood circulation in the back of the eye causes more abnormal blood vessels to grow, which also bleed or leak fluid, and can lead to scar tissue, retinal detachment and even blindness, over time.

Often there are no symptoms until the advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy, where patients may begin to see spots and missing patches in their vision. Retinopathy can be treated through surgery and eye injections, but the best way to prevent this disease from progressing is to regularly have your eyes screened.

The good news is that diabetic eye disease can often be prevented with early detection, proper management of your diabetes and regular diabetic eye exams. Contact Eagle Mountain Family Eye Care in Fort Worth to set up your eye doctor’s appointment today. 

Your Eyes Are the Windows to Your Health

Your eyes aren’t just the windows to your soul — they can also reveal valuable information about your general health beyond whether you need glasses, including: diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. It is not unusual for people to come in for an eye exam just to check their eyesight and then have certain health issues or predispositions picked up by the optometrist. 

Eye Exams and Your Health

Eye examinations can help doctors detect general health conditions early enough to intervene. Advanced screenings enable eye doctors to better predict cardiovascular incidents like stroke, and possibly detect signs of mental changes such as Alzheimer’s. Read below to learn how eye exams can unveil a whole lot more than just eye health.

Brain Cancer & Stroke

Because of the similarities between the blood vessels in the eye and brain, an eye doctor can occasionally detect an issue taking place in the brain by examining the blood vessels in the eyes. If swelling or shadows in the eye is observed, it may indicate a serious condition in the brain, like a tumor, or clots that might result in a stroke.

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye, resulting in Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) and Diabetic Macular Edema (DME). If an optometrist detects leaky blood vessels in the eye, the patient would be advised to see a doctor to help control their blood sugar. Changes are gradual, and they start before visual symptoms are noticed. The earlier diabetic eye disease is managed, the better the chances are of preserving eyesight. 

Hypertension

High blood pressure, characterized by having too much pressure in the blood vessels, can be detected during an eye exam, sometimes even before it’s diagnosed by your regular doctor. The damaged blood vessels lead to swelling, hemorrhages, and leaking — all of which can be observed in the eyes. According to the CDC, hypertension “the silent killer” affects nearly 1 in 3 adults, and up to a whopping 20% of those don’t even know they have it. So early detection at an eye doctor’s evaluation can be truly life-saving.

High Cholesterol 

Eye exams can also detect a buildup of cholesterol. High cholesterol is among the easiest conditions to spot during a complete eye exam, as the cholesterol deposits manifest on the front of the eye, appearing as a thin, gray rim around the cornea. It can also be detected in the retina by assessing artery and vein patterns.

These deposits may indicate the current or future development of Retinal Blood Vessel Occlusion, a condition where blockages restrict blood flow to the back of the eye, causing temporary or permanent vision loss. 

Heart Conditions

In some cases, heart conditions associated with a buildup of plaque in the carotid artery in the heart can also lead to deposits that clog the ocular arteries in the eye. If an optometrist detects such changes to the vascular structure at the back of the eye, he or she will typically recommend going to a specialist.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Sudden vision loss may be attributed to Multiple Sclerosis (MS). While the optometrist can recognize signs indicating the presence of MS, such as the color and appearance of the optic nerve, such cases will be referred for further testing to confirm the diagnosis.

Thyroid

Thyroid disease can make itself apparent through the eyes in several ways. The thyroid gland controls the hormones that regulate tear production so some thyroid disorders can cause dry eye disease. Additionally, overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can make the extraocular muscles enlarge and stiffen, causing bulging eyes — an indicator of Graves’ disease. 

Inflammation

Systemic conditions that are associated with inflammation in the body can have an inflammatory effect on the eyes. Uveitis, for example, causes eye inflammation, redness, and blurred vision, and tends to occur in people with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases. 

Cancer

Breast cancer, leukemia, and other metastatic cancers are occasionally discovered during an eye evaluation. In addition to brain cancer mentioned above, melanoma and basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer) can be detected, and eye doctors can also diagnose lymphoma and other eye tumors. Eye exams save lives.

What the Future Holds 

Alzheimer’s 

Recent studies show that a non-invasive and precise imaging device called Octa (optical coherence tomography angiography) can signal the presence of eye changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Because the retina is in many ways an extension of the brain, the altered blood vessels at the back of the eye offer a glimpse into the changes taking place within the brain.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease can often be misdiagnosed as its early symptoms are characteristic of other conditions. Research has shown that subtle eye tremors, an early Parkinson’s marker, could be detectable using advanced eye exam technology. One day soon, practitioners may send patients to an eye doctor to test for this and other diseases.

Your Eye Doctor’s Appointment Could Change Your Life

So the next time you visit Dr. Miller at Eagle Mountain Family Eye Care in Fort Worth, remember that a comprehensive eye exam can do more than determine your eyeglasses or contacts prescription. Dr. Miller can evaluate your eyes for existing or potential health issues, and communicate them to your primary care physician for the best possible care. By knowing that you’re at risk for a certain disease, you can take precautions early on and manage the condition as needed. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Should I have an Eye Exam When my Blood Sugar is High?

At our Fort Worth eye clinic, we see a lot of patients with diabetes. It’s no surprise, as rates of diabetes are skyrocketing in Texas. However, there are a lot of misconceptions out there. Here are a few common questions and issues that come up.

Does Diabetes Affect My Eyes?

diabetes eye exam fort worth tx

Vision Problems from Diabetic Retinopathy

Yes, yes, and YES. Diabetes and high blood sugar affect your entire body and your eyes are no exception. Diabetes is a very significant risk factor in what’s called diabetic retinopathy, a serious eye condition where the blood vessels near the retina swell, leak, and otherwise grow abnormally. This causes black spots, blurring, and, over time, serious vision loss due to the bleeding this causes within. In fact, diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of blindness in the US today.

Aside from diabetic retinopathy, diabetes significantly raises your risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma―yet another major cause of blindness.

This is why it’s absolutely essential that you see your optometrist regularly if you have diabetes. At our Fort Worth eye center, our optometrists have extensive experience and expertise working with diabetic patients to closely monitor for these conditions, while providing treatment should they occur.

Should I take an Eye Exam if My Blood Sugar is High? Do I Need to Tell My Eye Doctor?

Again, you ABSOLUTELY need to be screened regularly if you routinely have high blood sugar. However, you HAVE TO TELL US! All too often, we have patients coming in to check their vision for a new prescription without telling our optometrist that they have diabetes! When they go to pick up their glasses and their blood sugar has fluctuated―low and behold the prescription is off and the lenses are a write-off!

When your blood sugar is high, the blood vessels constrict and this changes your focus and visual acuity. We simply cannot get an accurate refractive prescription if you don’t tell us that you have diabetes.

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