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National Diabetes Month: Diabetes and the Eye

Are you aware that being diabetic puts you at risk for serious eye damage? Diabetes is the main cause of loss of sight in adults under 75 years old according to 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. Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most serious complications of the disease and it is projected to affect 11 million people by 2030.

In its early stages, diabetic retinopathy is often asymptomatic. When the pressure in the retinal blood vessels increases they begin to leak resulting in permanent damage to the retina. This damage will result in eventual blindness if it is not treated.

Since signs are often not noticed until it is too late it is important to have a yearly diabetic eye exam if you are diabetic. Warning signs of diabetic retinopathy include fluctuating vision, eye floaters and spots, the development of a shadow in your 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.

With early diagnosis and treatment, we can stop vision loss. In addition to making sure that you have a comprehensive eye exam once a year if you are diabetic, keeping your blood sugar levels under control is crucial to your eye health. Keep your glucose levels at the proper range and monitor and control your blood pressure. Include exercise and proper nutrition in your lifestyle.

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