Diabetes and how it affects the Eye

Optometry patients with diabetes or anyone with diabetes should have their eyes checked by a Doctor of Optometry at least once a year. In the province of Ontario, these diabetic optometrist appointments are covered under OHIP once a year with follow-up appointments if your doctor deems it necessary. The reason OHIP will cover a diabetic patients eye exam is because these patients are more prone to eye disease and eye conditions such as Diabetic Retinopathy.

 Diabetic Retinopathy is the most common form of vision loss or blindness in people of a working age. In some cases Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) may occur, this condition causes the blood vessels to leak their contents into the macular region of the retina and this may cause a more rapid form of vision loss.

 There are several phases of Diabetic Retinopathy. In the earliest phase the arteries in the retina become weakened and begin to leak forming small, dot-like hemorrhages. This can lead to swelling or edema in the retina and decreased vision. In the next stage of Diabetic Retinopathy, circulation problems cause areas of the retina to become oxygen-deprived. New more fragile vessels develop as the circulatory system attempts to maintain an adequate oxygen level within the retina. Unfortunately because these vessels are more fragile they hemorrhage very easily and may leak blood into the retina causing spots, floaters and decreased vision. In the later phases of Diabetic Retinopathy, abnormal vessels continue to grow and scar tissue may cause more serious problems such as retinal detachment. NOTE: When Diabetic Retinopathy is caught early treatment is effective at reducing or preventing damage to your sight.