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National Diabetes Month: Diabetes and the Eye

Too many people are not informed that diabetes can lead to vision loss. Research by the National Institute of Health (NIH) indicates that diabetes is the number one cause of blindness among those under 75. One of the most serious complications of diabetes is when the retina is damaged 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 has affected over 3.7 million people in America since 2002. This number is expected to reach 11 million cases by 2030.

Early on, diabetic retinopathy is often asymptomatic. When the pressure in the retinal blood vessels increases they start to leak causing permanent damage to the retina. This damage can cause eventual blindness if it is not treated.

Warning signs of 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.

The risk of diabetic eye disease is higher when glucose levels are uncontrolled. Carefully monitoring your sugar levels through diet, exercise and staying healthy and yearly eye exams is the best combination for preserving your vision.

This month, spread awareness of the risks of diabetic eye disease and consult with your optometrist if you have any questions. In this case, ignorance could cost you your vision