Are you aware that being diabetic increases your chances of 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 risks of diabetes is retinal damage caused by excessive pressure in the blood vessels of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy causes severe vision impairment and even blindness. Anyone with the disease is at risk and it is projected to affect 11 million people by 2030.
Diabetic retinopathy can be asymptomatic until it is too late. When the pressure in the retinal blood vessels builds up they start to leak causing retinal damage. This will result in vision loss and when not treated, blindness.
Warning signs of diabetic retinopathy include fluctuating vision, eye floaters and spots, the development of a shadow in your field of view, blurry vision, corneal abnormalities, seeing double, eye pain and near vision problems that have nothing to do with presbyopia. Cataracts and glaucoma are also more common in individuals with diabetes than in the average population.
With early diagnosis and treatment, we can prevent loss of eyesight. In addition to making sure that you have a comprehensive eye exam once a year if you are diabetic, controlling your diabetes is vital to your eye health. Keep your glucose levels within normal limits and monitor and control your blood pressure. Ensure that you exercise and maintain a healthy diet and refrain from smoking.
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.