Even many individuals with the disease are not informed that diabetes increases the risk of vision threatening eye damage. Diabetes is the main cause of total vision loss in adults between the ages of 20 and 74 according to recent studies by the NIH. One of the risks of diabetes is when the retina is damaged by an increase in 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 has affected over 3.7 million people in the United States since 2002. This number is expected to reach 11 million cases by 2030.
Diabetic retinopathy is often undetected until there has been significant vision loss. Loss of sight ultimately develops when the blood vessels in the retina begin to leak fluid, oil and small amounts of blood. When it is not detected, blood vessels could be completely stopped up or additional vessels may grow on the retina leading to irreparable vision loss.
Warning signs of diabetic retinopathy include fluctuating vision, eye floaters and spots, shadows in the field of view, blurry vision, corneal abnormalities, double vision, eye pain and near vision problems that have nothing to do with presbyopia. Diabetes also increases the risk of developing glaucoma and cataracts.
All diabetic eye diseases are more damaging when the disease is uncontrolled. Controlling your sugar levels through diet, exercise and staying healthy and yearly eye exams is the best defense for preserving your eye sight.
This month, spread awareness of the risks of diabetic eye disease and speak to your optometrist if you have any questions. In this case, ignorance could cost you your precious eyesight