Are you aware that being diabetic puts you at risk for serious eye damage? Research by the National Institute of Health (NIH) indicates that diabetes is the number one cause of complete vision loss in individuals aged 20 to 74 years old. One of the risks of diabetes is when the retina is damaged by excessive pressure in the blood vessels of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy causes severe vision impairment and even blindness. Anyone with the disease is at risk and it is projected to affect 11 million people by 2030.
Early on, this condition is often asymptomatic. Vision problems occur when the retinal blood vessels begin to leak fluid, oil and small amounts of blood into the retina. When it is not diagnosed, blood vessels could be completely stopped up or new vessels may grow on the retina leading to permanent vision loss.
Since signs are often not noticed until it is too late it is imperative to see your optometrist each year to perform a comprehensive eye exam if you have diabetes. If you have diabetes and you notice any sort of vision problems, such as fluctuations in eyesight, floaters, double vision, shadows or spots or any pain in your eye make sure to see an eye doctor. Cataracts and glaucoma are also more common in individuals with diabetes than in the average population.
All diabetic eye diseases are more damaging when the disease is uncontrolled. Controlling your sugar levels through diet, exercise and staying healthy and annual eye exams is the best combination for preserving your eye sight.
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, knowledge really is the key to vision.