Diabetic eye disease is a catch-all term for a set of eye problems that people with diabetes may experience as a complication of their condition. Any person with diabetes is at risk for both vision loss and blindness as a result of diabetic eye disease. And, unfortunately, diabetic eye disease does not usually present clear warning signs.
Early detection and proper, timely treatment can greatly reduce the risks, however. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reports that finding and treating diabetic retinopathy early can reduce the risk of blindness by 95%.
Complications of Diabetic Eye Disease
Diabetic eye disease causes changes in the blood vessels in the back of the eyes, which can affect your child’s eyes with:
- Cataracts: A clouding of the eye lens
- Diabetic retinopathy: Damage to the retina’s blood vessels
- Glaucoma: Fluid pressure increase inside the eye, leading to optic nerve damage and vision loss
Who Should be Screened?
Every child with diabetes is at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, the most common diabetic eye disease. Diabetic retinopathy is a major cause of blindness in the United States, but detecting it early and employing proper treatment can prevent blindness.
If your child has diabetes, they should be screened for retinopathy within one year of their diagnosis. Even if your child has great vision, they should still undergo a diabetic retinopathy screening. It’s important to not wait until vision problems develop, as diabetic retinopathy may not display any signs or symptoms until it’s too late.
Diabetic Retinopathy Screening
A diabetic retinopathy exam checks the eye health of children with diabetes. During a diabetic retinopathy exam, a pediatric eye doctor will dilate your child’s eye with drops. These drops will cause blurry vision, but pain and comfort will be minimal. While the eyes are dilated, the doctor looks inside of your child’s eyes with a bright light, looking for warning signs within the tissue at the back of the eyes.
Only qualified pediatric eye care specialists can perform diabetic retinopathy screenings, as a dilated eye exam is not a vision test. No school nurse, regular pediatrician, or nurse practitioner can perform these exams.
For a child with diabetes, an annual, comprehensive dilated eye exam is the best way to detect the early warning signs of diabetic retinopathy and diabetic eye disease.
We’re qualified to screen for diabetic eye disease, and our trained pediatric eye doctors know the warning signs and proper treatments. If your child has been diagnosed with diabetes, give us a call today.