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The Importance of Annual Retinal Exams for Diabetic Patients

Patients with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes run the risk of developing Diabetic retinopathy (“DR”) due to elevated glucose levels. Increased glucose levels can behave as slow-acting poison that gradually erodes the ability of pancreatic cells to produce insulin, causing the pancreas to overcompensate and produce excess amounts. It can also cause the calcification of blood vessels, making them fragile and more susceptible to hemorrhaging; and neovascularization, which is the formation of functional, but fragile microvascular networks. 

These formed, fragile vessels can hemorrhage, allowing blood to enter and cloud the viscous gel body, obstructing the refraction of light. Consequently, nutrient and oxygen deprivation of the retina may occur, hindering it from functioning properly and leading to severe or permanent vision loss. The four main types of DR are non-proliferative Diabetic retinopathy, proliferative Diabetic retinopathy, Diabetic macular edema (DME), and advanced diabetic eye disease.

It is imperative for Diabetic patients to visit an eye care professional for annual retinal and comprehensive eye exams, in addition to maintaining controlled blood glucose levels.

Studies such as the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) have shown that controlling blood glucose levels slows the onset and worsening of diabetic retinopathy. 

“DCCT study participants who kept their blood glucose level as close to normal as possible were significantly less likely than those without optimal glucose control to develop diabetic retinopathy, as well as kidney and nerve diseases. Other trials have shown that controlling elevated blood pressure and cholesterol can reduce the risk of vision loss among people with diabetes” (NEI – National Eye Institute).

Weekly exercise and consuming lower caloric foods, saturated fats, trans fats, sugar, and salt; and consuming more fiber-containing foods (i.e. whole grain cereals and breads), will help maintain a healthy weight and lower risks of high glucose levels.

To be evaluated for Diabetic retinopathy and other Diabetic ocular risks, please contact our office at 310-734- 3446 or visit our website to book an appointment.


Dr. Kambiz Silani & Alexa Bolden Chief Clinical Director & Student Doctor

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