Did you know that being diabetic increases your chances of serious eye damage? According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) in individuals between 20 and 74, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness. One of the risks of diabetes is retinal damage caused 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 has affected over 3.7 million people in America since 2002. This number is projected to reach 11 million cases by 2030.
Diabetic retinopathy can be undetected until it is too late. Vision loss ultimately develops when the blood vessels in the retina begin to leak fluid, oil and small amounts of blood into the retina. As the disease progresses, blood vessels could be completely stopped up or additional unwanted vessels may begin to form on the retina leading to irreparable vision loss.
Since symptoms are often not seen until significant damage is done it is important to have a yearly 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 an optometrist. In addition to diabetic retinopathy, diabetics are at increased risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma.
The risk of diabetic eye disease is higher when glucose levels are uncontrolled. Controlling your diabetes through diet, exercise and staying healthy and annual eye exams is the best combination for preserving your eye sight.
If you or a loved one is diabetic, be sure you are knowledgeable about the risks of diabetic retinopathy and other eye risks and speak to your optometrist if you have any questions. It could mean the difference between a life of sight and one of darkness.