Are you aware that being diabetic increases your chances of vision loss? Research by the National Institute of Health (NIH) indicates that diabetes is the number one cause of blindness among those between 20 and 74. One of the most serious complications of diabetes is retinal damage caused by increased pressure in the blood vessels of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a particularly serious complication of the disease and it has affected over 3.7 million people in America in the past 10 years.
Diabetic retinopathy is often unnoticed until considerable damage is done. When the pressure in the blood vessels in the retina increases they begin to leak causing irreparable 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 important to have an annual diabetic eye exam if you are diabetic. Warning signs of diabetic retinopathy include fluctuating vision, eye floaters and spots, shadows in the field of view, blurred vision, corneal abnormalities, seeing double, eye pain and near vision problems that have nothing to do with presbyopia. 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 prevent 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 preserving your vision.
This month, spread awareness of the risks of diabetic retinopathy and consult with your eye doctor to discuss questions or concerns. In this case, knowledge really is the key to sight.