Too many people are not aware that diabetes increases the risk of vision loss. Research by the National Institute of Health (NIH) indicates that diabetes is the leading cause of complete vision loss in adults aged 20 to 74 years old. 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. Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most serious complications of the disease and it has affected over 3.7 million people in America since 2002.
Early on, this condition is often asymptomatic. Vision problems eventually develop when the blood vessels in the retina begin to leak fluid, oil and small amounts of blood into the retina. When it is not treated, blood vessels may become blocked or new vessels may begin to grow on the retina leading to permanent vision loss.
Because signs are often not seen until it is too late it is imperative to see your optometrist on a yearly basis to perform a comprehensive eye exam if you are diabetic. Warning signs of developing 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.
With early detection and treatment, we can reduce loss of eyesight. In addition to making sure to schedule a comprehensive eye exam on a yearly basis if you are diabetic, keeping your glucose levels under control is essential to your eye health.
This month, spread awareness of the risks of diabetic retinopathy and speak to your optometrist if you have any questions. In this case, ignorance could cost you your vision