We’ve been in the business of helping patients improve their vision for more than 20 years. Over the decades, we’ve received many questions and helped clear up many fallacies and myths about laser vision correction. Many questions arise again and again.
One such question we hear from patients is this: “Can I have LASIK if I have diabetes?” This is a completely legitimate question that many have when considering vision correction procedures.
Our goal with this post is to address and calm any concerns you may have, and help you understand just a little bit more about laser vision correction procedures and diabetes.
The Diabetes-Vision Connection
Diabetes, as those affected by it already know, is a condition in which blood glucose levels are too high. Diabetics are either unable to produce the hormone, insulin, which is needed to enable sugar to enter cells and be used as energy (or their bodies simply don’t use insulin efficiently). Instead, the glucose/sugar builds up in the body, wreaking havoc on your system if not managed properly. More than 30 million American’s alone have been diagnosed with the condition.
Left untreated (or improperly treated), diabetes can take a toll on the body’s organs, including the eyes. In fact, one of the symptoms of diabetes is blurred vision, which clearly shows a connection between diabetes and eyesight.
Diabetic Eye Disease is a set of conditions that people with diabetes may be more prone to. Several of these conditions, on their own, are not specific to diabetics. They include: cataracts and glaucoma, as well as diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. However, the chance of developing any of these conditions increases when one has diabetes, especially if you’ve had it for a long time.
Symptoms of Diabetic Eye Disease
The symptoms of Diabetic Eye Disease may not be evident in the early stages. That’s why it’s extremely important to get regular checkups so that your eye doctor can catch any changes early on to help keep your vision solid.
However, symptoms can include any of the following:
- Weak color vision
- Blurry vision
- Frequent, even daily, changes to your vision
- Flashes of light
- Dark spots in your vision
- Vision loss
- Floaters, or spots/strings
Steps diabetics can take for healthier vision
- Diabetics should plan to see their eye doctor annually. Your doctor will do a full eye dilation to check for the formation of any of these conditions.
- Manage your blood sugar levels by following your medical doctor’s treatment and management plan.
- Eat a nutritious diet rich in fatty fish, leafy greens and vegetables
Can diabetics have laser vision correction / LASIK / SMILE procedures?
The simple answer is ‘Yes’–but there is a ‘but’. In general, if you have your diabetes under control (that means stable blood sugar) and are free from Diabetic Retinopathy, LASIK or SMILE may be a great method of improving or regaining your vision. But if you have Diabetic Retinopathy, laser procedures are likely not the right option for you and can do more harm than good. You should always talk to your eye doctor to see if you are a good candidate for a LASIK or SMILE procedure.
If you have diabetes and are experiencing any issues with your eyes, schedule an appointment with a vision care specialist//LASIK specialist to understand your options. Most times, LASIK or SMILE can be great options for improving your eyesight and treating some of the eye conditions that can be associated with diabetes.
When should diabetics talk to their eye doctor?
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, be sure to tell your eye doctor. Unless he/she gives you a different schedule, you should plan to see your eye care professional every year. He/she will conduct a full dilation to ensure that your eyes are healthy, and to take actions to treat them as early as possible if they show signs of Diabetic Eye Disease.
Beyond that, you should also call up your eye doctor if you experience any of the symptoms of Diabetic Eye Disease. Don’t just wait for your next eye exam. Taking early action can help keep your treatment plan simpler and your vision healthier.
Questions diabetics should ask their eye doctor
Diabetics can take greater control of their vision by taking an interest in their health and vision. Often, knowledge is the best prevention of complications from diabetes. Next time you visit your eye care professional, bring these questions along to ask. By being prepared ahead of time, you can gain the upper hand to managing your or your loved one’s health conditions.
- How do you test for Diabetic Retinopathy?
- What can I do to prevent (or treat) Diabetic Eye Disease?
- How can I prevent blindness from diabetes?
- What are the treatment options for Diabetic Retinopathy?
- What type of diet can I follow to manage and improve vision problems associated with diabetes?
- Can corrective surgery improve my eyesight?
- Am I a candidate for LASIK or SMILE?
- What are my treatment options for my diabetes-related glaucoma, cataracts, etc?
Just because diabetes can take its toll on your eyes doesn’t mean you have to let it. Amplify your chances for better lifelong vision by making and keeping your annual exams, talking to your doctor about any changes you are experiencing and discussing treatment options to mitigate or improve your conditions.
Don’t know where to start? The IQ Laser Vision staff is standing by at any of our 12 locations to schedule a consultation, answer your questions and help you envision the possibilities of what better vision could mean (and look like) for you.