Far too many people are unaware of the fact that diabetes increases the risk of vision loss. The NIH reports that diabetes is the primary cause of blindness among individuals aged 20 to 74 years old. One of the most serious complications of diabetes is retinal damage caused by increased pressure in the blood vessels of the eye, which is called diabetic retinopathy. This condition is one of the most serious complications of the disease and it is projected to affect 11 million people by 2030.
Diabetic retinopathy is often asymptomatic until there has been significant vision loss. When the pressure in the blood vessels in the retina builds up they begin to leak resulting in retinal damage. This damage can cause vision loss and when not treated, blindness.
Because symptoms are often not noticed until significant damage is done it is important to schedule a yearly comprehensive eye exam if you have diabetes. Warning signs of developing 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. Cataracts and glaucoma are also more common in individuals with diabetes than in the average population.
The risk of diabetic eye disease is higher when blood sugar levels are uncontrolled. Controlling your sugar levels through diet, exercise and staying healthy and annual eye exams is the best defense for preventing vision loss.
This month, spread awareness of the risks of diabetic retinopathy and consult with your eye doctor if you have any questions. It could mean the difference between a life of sight and one of darkness.