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Diabetic Eye Disease

Even many individuals with the disease are unaware of the fact that diabetes increases the risk of vision threatening eye damage. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) in individuals between 20 and 74, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness. One of the risks of diabetes is retinal damage caused by excessive 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 is projected to affect 11 million people by 2030.

Early on, this condition often presents no noticeable symptoms. Vision loss occurs when the blood vessels in the retina begin to leak fluid, oil and small amounts of blood into the retina. If the disease is not detected, blood vessels could become completely stopped up or additional unwanted vessels may begin to form on the retina leading to irreparable loss of sight.

Because signs are often not seen until significant damage is done it is crucial to schedule a yearly diabetic eye exam if you have diabetes. If you have diabetes and you notice any sort of vision problems, such as fluctuations in eyesight, floaters, double vision, shadows or spots or any pain in your eye schedule a visit with an optometrist. In addition to diabetic retinopathy, diabetics are at increased risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma.

There are effective treatments to prevent vision loss as a result of diabetes, however early diagnosis and treatment are necessary. In addition to making sure to schedule a comprehensive eye exam annually if you are diabetic, keeping your blood sugar levels under control is essential to your eye health. Make sure to keep your glucose levels at the proper range and monitor and control your blood pressure. Ensure that you exercise and maintain a healthy diet and refrain from smoking.

This month, spread awareness of the risks of diabetic retinopathy and consult with your eye doctor to discuss questions or concerns. In this case, knowledge really is the key to sight.