Did you know that a diagnosis of diabetes increases your chances of blindness? A recent study by the National Institute of Health (NIH) indicates that in individuals between 20 and 74, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness. One of the most serious complications of diabetes is when the retina is damaged by increased pressure in the blood vessels of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy. This condition is one of the most serious complications of the disease and it is projected to affect 11 million people by 2030.
Diabetic retinopathy can be unnoticed until there has been significant vision loss. Loss of sight occurs when the blood vessels in the retina begin to leak. As the disease progresses, blood vessels could be blocked or new vessels may grow on the retina leading to irreparable loss of sight.
Because signs are often not seen until significant damage is done it is imperative to see your eye doctor each year to perform a comprehensive eye exam if you have diabetes. If you are diabetic 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. Diabetics are also at increased risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma due to the strain it causes on the eyes.
The risk of diabetic eye disease is higher when blood sugar levels are uncontrolled. Controlling your diabetes through diet, exercise and staying healthy and yearly eye exams is the best combination for preventing vision loss.
If you or a loved one is diabetic, make sure you know preventing diabetic retinopathy and other eye risks and consult with your optometrist to discuss questions or concerns. In this case, knowledge really is the key to vision.