Did you know that a diagnosis of diabetes puts you at risk for blindness? The NIH reports that diabetes is the number one cause of complete vision loss among those between 20 and 74. One of the risks of diabetes is retinal damage caused by excessive pressure in the blood vessels of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a particularly serious complication of the disease and it is projected to affect 11 million people by 2030.
Diabetic retinopathy can be undetected until it is too late. When the pressure in the retinal blood vessels builds up they begin to leak resulting in irreparable damage to the retina. This can cause eventual blindness if it is not treated.
Since symptoms are often not seen until significant damage is done it is crucial to see your eye doctor annually to perform a diabetic eye exam if you have diabetes. Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include fluctuating vision, eye floaters and spots, shadows in the field of view, blurred vision, corneal abnormalities, seeing double, eye pain and near vision problems that have nothing to do with presbyopia. In addition to diabetic retinopathy, diabetics are at increased risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma.
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 annual eye exams is the best defense for preserving your vision.
If you or a loved one has diabetes, make sure you know preventing diabetic eye disease and speak to your eye doctor to discuss questions or concerns. It could mean the difference between a life of sight and one of darkness.