Far too many people are not aware that diabetes can lead to vision loss. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) 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, which 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.
Early on, diabetic retinopathy is often asymptomatic. When the pressure in the retinal blood vessels builds up they begin to leak resulting in irreparable damage to the retina. This damage will result in vision loss and when not treated, blindness.
Because symptoms are often not seen until it is too late it is important to schedule an annual diabetic eye exam if you are diabetic. 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 schedule a visit with your optometrist. Diabetics are also at increased risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma due to the strain it causes on the eyes.
There are effective treatments to slow the progression of diabetic eye diseases and stop further vision loss resulting from diabetes, however the disease must be diagnosed early. In addition to making sure to schedule a regular eye exam on a yearly basis if you are diabetic, controlling your blood sugar levels is vital to your eye health.
This month, spread awareness of the risks of diabetic retinopathy and consult with your eye doctor to discuss questions or concerns. It could mean the difference between a life of sight and one of darkness.