Are you aware that a diagnosis of diabetes puts you at risk for serious eye damage? Diabetes is the number one cause of total vision loss in people between the ages of 20 and 74 according to recent studies by the NIH. One of the most serious complications of diabetes is retinal damage caused by excessive pressure in the blood vessels of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy. This condition is a particularly serious complication of the disease and it has affected over 3.7 million people in the United States over the past ten years.
Diabetic retinopathy can be undetected until significant damage is done. Loss of sight occurs when the blood vessels in the retina begin to leak into the retina. As the disease develops, blood vessels could become blocked or additional unwanted vessels may begin to form on the retina leading to irreparable loss of sight.
Because symptoms are often not seen until it is too late it is crucial to see your optometrist each year to perform a comprehensive eye exam if you have diabetes. Warning signs of developing diabetic retinopathy include fluctuating vision, eye floaters and spots, shadows in the field of view, blurred vision, corneal abnormalities, double vision, eye pain and near vision problems that have nothing to do with presbyopia. Diabetics are also at increased risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma due to the strain it causes on the eyes.
With early diagnosis and treatment, we can reduce vision loss. In addition to making sure that you have a comprehensive eye exam once a year if you are diabetic, controlling your blood sugar levels is essential to your eye health. Make sure to keep your glucose levels at normal limits and keep an eye on your blood pressure. Ensure that you exercise and maintain a healthy diet and refrain from smoking.
This month, spread awareness of the risks of diabetic retinopathy and consult with your eye doctor if you have any questions. In this case, ignorance could cost you your precious eyesight