Did you know that being diabetic increases your chances of serious eye damage? A recent study by the National Institute of Health (NIH) indicates that in individuals between 20 and 74, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness. One of the most serious complications 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. Diabetic retinopathy is a particularly serious complication of the disease and it has affected over 3.7 million people in the U.S. over the past ten years.
Early on, diabetic retinopathy often presents no noticeable symptoms. When the pressure in the retinal blood vessels increases they start to leak resulting in retinal damage. This damage will result in vision loss and when not treated, blindness.
Warning signs of developing diabetic retinopathy include fluctuating vision, eye floaters and spots, the development of a shadow in your field of view, blurry vision, corneal abnormalities, seeing double, eye pain and near vision problems that have nothing to do with presbyopia. Cataracts and glaucoma are also more common in individuals with diabetes than in the average population.
There are ways prevent loss of vision resulting from diabetes, but the disease must be diagnosed early. In addition to making sure that you have a regular eye exam once a year if you are diabetic, keeping your diabetes under control is crucial to keeping your eyes healthy.
This month, spread awareness of the risks of diabetic eye disease and speak to your eye doctor if you have any questions. It could mean the difference between a life of sight and one of darkness.