Are you aware that being diabetic puts you at risk for vision loss? The NIH reports that in individuals between 20 and 74, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness. One of the risks of diabetes is retinal damage caused 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 U.S. in the past decade. This number is projected to reach 11 million cases by 2030.
In its early stages, this condition often presents no noticeable symptoms. When the pressure in the retinal blood vessels builds up they start to leak resulting in retinal damage. This can cause vision loss and when not treated, blindness.
Warning signs of developing diabetic retinopathy include any kind of vision problems such as fluctuations, spots, shadows, double or blurred vision or pain. Cataracts and glaucoma are also more common in individuals with diabetes than in the average population.
With early detection and treatment, we can be effective in reducing vision loss. In addition to making sure to schedule a regular eye exam annually if you are diabetic, controlling your blood sugar levels is necessary to your eye health.
If you or a loved one has diabetes, be sure you are knowledgeable about preventing diabetic retinopathy and other eye risks and consult with your optometrist if you have any questions. In this case, knowledge really is the key to a lifetime of healthy vision.