Did you know that having diabetes increases your chances of vision threatening eye damage? Diabetes is the number one cause of loss of sight in adults under 75 years old according to the NIH. One of the risks of diabetes is retinal damage caused by an increase in pressure in the blood vessels of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a particularly serious complication of the disease and it is projected to affect 11 million people by 2030.
Diabetic retinopathy can be undetected until there has been significant vision loss. Loss of sight ultimately develops when the blood vessels in the retina begin to leak into the retina. If the disease is not diagnosed, blood vessels could be blocked or additional unwanted vessels may form on the retina leading to permanent vision loss.
Since symptoms are often not noticed until vision is already at risk it is important to have an annual diabetic eye exam if you are diabetic. Warning signs of developing diabetic retinopathy include fluctuating vision, eye floaters and spots, shadows in the field of view, blurred vision, corneal abnormalities, seeing double, eye pain and near vision problems that have nothing to do with presbyopia. In addition to diabetic retinopathy, diabetics are at increased risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma.
There are ways prevent loss of sight as a result of diabetes, but the disease must be diagnosed early. In addition to making sure that you have a diabetic eye exam once a year if you are diabetic, controlling your blood sugar levels is essential to keeping your eyes healthy. Keep your blood sugar levels at the proper range and monitor and control 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 eye disease and speak to your eye doctor if you have any questions. In this case, ignorance could cost you your precious eyesight