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Seeing diabetes: How regular eye exams can help with early detection, treatment plans

It has often been said that the eyes are the window to the soul but they can also be a window into a person’s overall health and wellness. When it comes to detecting or managing a disease like diabetes the eye contains important clues to help doctors find the best care and treatment plans for the patient.

“When we talk about diabetes and the eye, we are really discussing the blood vessels in the eye,” said Dr. Ryan Robison, an optometrist at SouthWest Vision. “If you’re diabetic the concern is what the blood vessels are doing throughout the body. The unique thing about the eye is that we can actually see the blood vessels. When we look inside the eye we can see the arteries and the veins.”

Early detection

If a person is starting to have changes in their blood vessels such as bleeding or hemorrhaging, an optometrist would be able to physically see that during an eye examination, Robison said.

Damage to the blood vessels in the eye as a result of high blood sugar levels is an eye disease known as diabetic retinopathy. Oftentimes when changes in the eye’s blood vessels are seen, it is a sign that the patient is having problems elsewhere, Robison said.

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