Too many people are not aware that diabetes can lead to blindness. The NIH reports that in individuals between 20 and 74, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness. One of the risks of diabetes is when the retina is damaged by an increase in pressure in the blood vessels of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy. This condition is a particularly serious complication of the disease and it has affected over 3.7 million people in America since 2002.
In its early stages, this condition is often asymptomatic. Loss of sight ultimately develops when the blood vessels in the retina begin to leak. As the disease progresses, blood vessels could be blocked or additional vessels may begin to form on the retina leading to irreparable loss of sight.
Since signs are often not seen until vision is already at risk it is imperative to see your optometrist on a yearly basis 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 your optometrist. Diabetes also increases the risk of developing glaucoma and cataracts.
With early detection and treatment, we can prevent vision loss. In addition to making sure that you have a regular eye exam annually if you are diabetic, controlling your blood sugar levels is necessary to keeping your eyes healthy.
This month, spread awareness of the risks of diabetic retinopathy 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.