The eyes are windows to the soul, or so it has been said. This may or may not be true, but what is certainly true is that the eyes can speak wonders about a person’s health and well-being, especially with regard to diabetic patients. Diabetes is a sneaky disease. It wages war on arteries. Arteries transport blood that carries nutrients and oxygen throughout the body. Initially, diabetes attacks small blood vessels and, over time, the larger vessels are damaged, as is any organ fed by these vessels. The eyes, being very dependent on small blood vessels, are often first to experience damaging effects from diabetes.
- The eyes allow arteries to be examined directly: A person’s eyes are the only place in the body where arteries can be directly examined without a person first being cut open or an IV catheter or other procedure. In the clinic, special instruments are used to examine arteries and other parts of the eye. During this painless exam, the eyes speak their special story. And of particular interest, this story may foretell of potential danger lurking ahead.
- Eye damage from diabetes can appear at any time: Some people may go years before showing damage, while in others, the progression can be much faster. In early stages, most diabetic patients may experience no adverse vision symptoms, all while the vessels that feed the tissues of the eye are being slowly strangled and damaged by the disease.
- Get your annual eye exams: At least once a year, regular diabetic eye exams can help detect changes in the eyes. Certain eye changes can indicate that other organs relying on small vessels are equally being damaged, including the kidneys and the brain. Therefore, the eye exam may help uncover signs of a lurking stroke or kidney disease or other major health event.
- There is help: Treatment is available for eyes suffering with diabetes. Diabetic damage can be irreversible. Vision saving treatments are much more effective if instituted when changes are discovered early. If it’s been more than a year since your last diabetic eye exam, it’s time to schedule one. Your eyes will thank you.
Brendon Delport, DO, attended Evangel University and earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology. After graduation he moved to Kansas City, Missouri and attended medical school at the University of Medicine and Biosciences. He then completed an internship at Forest Park Hospital in St. Louis, followed by residency and an oculoplastics fellowship at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. In 2004, Dr. Delport returned to Springfield and established his practice with the OCH Health System.
Dr. Delport sees patients with Medicaid, Medicare and Tricare in both Springfield and Nixa. To learn more about Ophthalmology services offered through the OCH Health System, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Delport, contact the OCH Medical Offices Clinic at (417) 837-4239 or visit http://www.OCHonline.com for more information.