Did you know that your optometrist can spot the early signs of Diabetes when conducting a comprehensive eye exam? It’s true!
Building our awareness of risk factors as we age is a natural process, though we sometimes forget simple things that might help us.
November is actually Fall Prevention Month, and it’s a great time for seniors to book an eye exam. Sudden or gradual vision loss can greatly compromise independence as we age, including through the risk of frequent falls.
“By age 65, one in three Ontarians will have an eye disease that leads to changes in vision, and one in nine seniors experience irreversible vision loss.”
Source: The Ontario Association of Optometrists
For many seniors, a complicating factor comes in the form of medications, many of which can cause dry eye which in turn can lead to impaired vision. Advancing vision problems can intensify the difficulty of common daily tasks, increase the risk of depression, increase medication errors, and lead to double the risk of falls as well as quadruple the risk of hip fractures.
While changes in vision are a very natural part of aging, loss of vision can be avoided through regular eye exams and care under a qualified optometrist. If you or an aging parent has been putting off that eye exam, here’s an important reminder for sticking to regular appointments.
Photo by Atanas Dzhingarov on Unsplash
Did you know that 80% of classroom learning is visual? That alone is a great reason to make sure an eye exam is top of your back to school shopping list. But there are other reasons to make regular eye exams a priority.
We know that an undetected vision or eye health problem can affect a child’s academic performance, but have you also considered how it might affect your child’s behaviour and social skills?
“Most parents and guardians aren’t aware that an undiagnosed vision problem goes beyond poor academic performance,” says optometrist and member of the Ontario Association of Optometrists, Dr. Rajvinder Pabla.
In fact, poor vision can lead to reduced social interaction because of the inability to see properly.
Signs your child may have a vision problem: Click on the infographic to enlarge.
A child may shy away or be excluded from playing team sports since their vision problem is affecting their hand-eye coordination. They may also avoid watching the latest 3D movie with their friends because they have reduced depth perception and can’t enjoy the movie the way their friends can.
“It’s unfortunate. They could be interacting with their peers and developing socially, but because they have an undetected vision problem they avoid certain social activities or are excluded from them,” says Dr. Pabla.
Along with social interactions, an undetected vision problem can affect a child’s behaviour in the classroom.
Dr. Pabla explains, a child who is hyperopic (farsighted) may have problems reading and focusing on their textbooks. If their hyperopia continues to go undiagnosed, they may try avoiding their work and in the process become disruptive out of frustration.
“Too often, some children are labelled as the ‘problem’ or ‘bad’ child when in fact their behaviour stems from an undiagnosed vision problem,” says Dr. Pabla. “Most of these kids don’t complain about their vision because they either have a hard time articulating their vision problem or think everyone sees like them.”
That is why a comprehensive eye exam is critical to a child’s overall development. Eye exams conducted by an optometrist can detect, diagnose and treat eye conditions that may be the root cause of a child’s behaviour or reclusive tendencies.
The Ontario Association of Optometrists recommends children start receiving comprehensive eye exams at 6 months, before starting kindergarten and every year thereafter.
OHIP covers a comprehensive eye examination once per year for children and adolescents up to 19 years of age. Find out more on our Pediatric Eye Examinations page.
“A child’s eye health status can change yearly, so as parents and guardians, we have to make sure our children go on a yearly basis once they start school. Even if they are fine one year, with growth, their prescription can change as well as the status of their binocular vision – how the two eyes work together,” says Dr. Pabla.
An undetected vision or eye health problem may be holding your child back socially and interfering with their behaviour. Our eye doctors can help remove the vision-related barriers that may be hindering your child from living a full and enriched life.
Article provided by the Ontario Association of Optometrists
If you’re one of more than 3 million Canadians living with Diabetes, or you have risk factors for the disease, you should know more about Diabetic retinopathy.
As we pointed out in our previous post on Diabetes Awareness Month, it’s essential to stay in top of your health with regular comprehensive eye exams.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that prevents your body from making or using insulin, which in turn leads to increased sugar levels in your bloodstream, known as high blood sugar.
How does diabetes affect the eye?
Diabetes and its complications can affect many parts of the eye. Diabetes can cause changes in nearsightedness, farsightedness and premature presbyopia (the inability to focus on close objects). It can result in cataracts, glaucoma, paralysis of the nerves that control the eye muscles or pupil, and decreased corneal sensitivity.
Visual symptoms of diabetes include fluctuating or blurring of vision, occasional double vision, loss of visual field, and flashes and floaters within the eyes. Sometimes these early signs of diabetes are first detected in a thorough examination performed by a doctor of optometry. The most serious eye problem associated with diabetes is diabetic retinopathy.
What is retinopathy?
Over time diabetes can cause changes in the retina. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when there is a weakening or swelling of the tiny blood vessels that feed the retina of your eye, resulting in blood leakage, the growth of new blood vessels and other changes.
When retinopathy advances, the decreased circulation of the blood vessels deprives areas of the retina of oxygen. Blood vessels become blocked or closed, and parts of the retina die. New, abnormal, blood vessels grow to replace the old ones. If diabetic retinopathy is left untreated, blindness can result.
Can vision loss from diabetes be prevented?
Yes, in a routine eye examination, your optometrist can diagnose potential vision threatening changes in your eye that may be treated to prevent blindness. However, once damage has occurred, the effects are usually permanent. It is important to control your diabetes as much as possible to minimize your risk of developing retinopathy.
How is diabetic retinopathy treated?
In the early stages, diabetic retinopathy is monitored through eye health examinations. If necessary, it may be treated with intraocular injections of anti-VEGF therapy (Lucentis, Avastin) or laser therapy. A bright beam of light is focused on the retina, causing a laser burn that seals off leaking blood vessels. In other cases, retinal surgery may be necessary. Early detection of diabetic retinopathy is crucial, as treatment is much more likely to be successful at an early stage.
Are there risk factors for developing diabetic retinopathy?
Several factors that increase the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy include smoking, high blood pressure, drinking alcohol and pregnancy.
How can diabetes-related eye problems be prevented?
Monitor and maintain control of your diabetes. See your physician regularly and follow instructions about diet, exercise and medication. See your doctor of optometry for a thorough eye examination when you are first diagnosed with diabetes, at least annually thereafter and more frequently if recommended.
Take the diabetes risk test
The Canadian Diabetes Association is asking Canadians to reduce the risks to their health and take The CANRISK Test, which helps to identify risk levels for Type 2 Diabetes.
Book your next eye exam
Nearly 3.3 million individuals in Canada live with Diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of the disease, accounting for nine out of ten cases, with trends predicted to increase dramatically in the next few years.
Many Canadians are unaware of the risks to their eyes with Diabetes. The Canadian Diabetes Association explains these risks:
“Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness in Canada. People with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts at a younger age and are twice as likely to develop glaucoma, but diabetes’ effect on the retina is the main threat to vision.”
A comprehensive eye exam is your best defense. It can lead to early detection of both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes, and can also help to reveal the effects of poor disease management in individuals living with Diabetes. This, in turn, can lead to helpful lifestyle and dietary changes, better treatment compliance, or important changes to medication.
Did you know that a comprehensive eye exam reveals a great deal more than a standard sight test?
Sight test or screening test (performed by a non-doctor): Only measures how well you can see. The individual performing the test is not trained or licensed to test or diagnose the eyes.
Comprehensive eye exam (performed by optometrist or ophthalmologist): Only an eye doctor can conduct a comprehensive eye exam. A high-powered microscope is used to examine the tiny structures inside of your eyes, including a close-up look at your blood vessels, optic nerves, and other complex eye structures, all of which may contain clues to conditions that could pose a serious risk to your health, such as Diabetes.
There really is no comparison!
A doctor of optometry is able to identify underlying health conditions or issues that are frequently detected first through an eye exam. Optometrists can provide referrals to specialists and other healthcare professionals.
We recommend annual eye exams for everyone, but they are particularly critical for individuals living with Diabetes. In our next post, we’ll delve into Diabetic Retinopathy, and how your optometrist can help you avoid this complication of living with Diabetes.
Ready to schedule your next eye exam?
Pumpkin spice lattes are back…perhaps it’s time to update your look for the fall too.
The fall is a great time to make sure that you’re wearing the most current prescription to support your vision and that your eyes are in good health. It’s also a great time to consider new frames and a new look if you’re ready for a change. Our team is here to help you choose from our wide selection of eyewear options.
Our eyewear dispensaries offer a large selection of high quality frames and sunglasses, in a variety of styles with options to accommodate all ages.
For a complete list of services, visit our Eyecare Services page.
September is fast approaching. Contact us today to schedule your child’s back to school eye exam.