Did you know that having diabetes puts you at risk for eye and vision damage? The NIH reports that diabetes is the leading 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, which is called diabetic retinopathy. This condition 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 significant retinal damage is done. When the pressure in the blood vessels in the retina increases they begin to leak resulting in irreparable damage to the retina. This damage can cause vision loss and when not treated, blindness.
Since symptoms are often not seen until vision is already at risk it is imperative to have a yearly diabetic eye exam if you have diabetes. Symptoms of developing diabetic retinopathy include any kind of vision problems such as fluctuations, spots, shadows, double or blurred vision or pain. In addition to diabetic retinopathy, diabetics are at increased risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma.
The risk of diabetic eye disease is higher when blood sugar levels are uncontrolled. Controlling your diabetes through diet, exercise and staying healthy and annual eye exams is the best defense for preserving your eye sight.
If you or a loved one has diabetes, be sure you are informed about preventing diabetic retinopathy and other eye risks and speak to your eye doctor to discuss questions or concerns. In this case, knowledge really is the key to sight.