Even many individuals with the disease are unaware of the fact that diabetes can lead to blindness. The NIH reports that diabetes is the leading cause of complete vision loss in adults between 20 and 74. 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. This condition causes severe vision impairment and even blindness. Anyone with the disease is at risk and it is projected to affect 11 million people by 2030.
Diabetic retinopathy is often undetected until considerable damage is done. When the pressure in the blood vessels in the retina builds up they begin to leak resulting in retinal damage. This can cause eventual blindness if it is not treated.
Since signs are often not noticed until significant damage is done it is crucial to see your optometrist each year to perform a 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 make an appointment with your eye doctor. Cataracts and glaucoma are also more common in individuals with diabetes than in the average population.
With early detection and treatment, we can stop loss of vision. In addition to making sure to schedule a diabetic eye exam on a yearly basis if you are diabetic, controlling your glucose levels is necessary to preserving your vision.
This month, spread awareness of the risks of diabetic retinopathy 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.