Are you aware that a diagnosis of diabetes puts you at risk for eye and vision damage? Diabetes is the number one cause of total vision loss in people between the ages of 20 and 74 according to the National Institute of Health. One of the risks of diabetes is when the retina is damaged by excessive pressure in the blood vessels of the eye, which is called diabetic retinopathy. This condition 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 increases they begin to leak causing retinal damage. This damage will result in vision loss and when not treated, blindness.
Because symptoms are often not noticed until significant damage is done it is imperative to see your optometrist annually to perform a diabetic eye exam if you have diabetes. Warning signs of diabetic retinopathy include fluctuating vision, eye floaters and spots, shadows in the field of view, blurry 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.
All diabetic eye diseases are more damaging when blood sugar levels are uncontrolled. Carefully monitoring your sugar levels through diet, exercise and staying healthy and yearly eye exams is the best defense for keeping your eyes healthy.
If you or a loved one has diabetes, make sure you are informed about preventing diabetic retinopathy and other eye risks and consult with your eye doctor if you have any questions. It could mean the difference between a life of sight and one of darkness.