Are you aware that being diabetic increases your chances of vision loss? According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) diabetes is the number one cause of complete vision loss in those between 20 and 74. One of the risks 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 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.
In its early stages, diabetic retinopathy is often asymptomatic. When the pressure in the blood vessels in the retina builds up they begin to leak causing permanent damage to the retina. This will result in eventual blindness if it is not treated.
Since 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. Warning signs of diabetic retinopathy include any kind of vision problems such as fluctuations, spots, shadows, double or blurred vision or pain. In addition to diabetic retinopathy, diabetics are at increased risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma.
There are ways slow the progression of diabetic eye diseases and stop further loss of sight as a result of diabetes, but early detection and treatment are essential. In addition to making sure to schedule a regular eye exam on a yearly basis if you are diabetic, keeping your diabetes under control is crucial to your eye health. Make sure to keep your glucose levels within normal limits and monitor and control your blood pressure. Include exercise and proper nutrition in your lifestyle.
If you or a loved one is diabetic, make sure you are informed about the risks of diabetic eye disease and speak to your eye doctor to discuss questions or concerns. It could mean the difference between a life of sight and one of darkness.