Even many individuals with the disease are not aware that diabetes increases the risk of vision loss. 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 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 America since 2002. This number is expected to reach 11 million cases by 2030.
Diabetic retinopathy can be undetected until it is too late. Vision problems occur when the blood vessels in the retina begin to leak fluid, oil and small amounts of blood. If the disease is not diagnosed, blood vessels may become completely stopped up or new unwanted vessels may begin to grow on the retina leading to irreparable loss of sight.
Symptoms of developing diabetic retinopathy include any kind of vision problems such as fluctuations, spots, shadows, double or blurred vision or pain. Diabetics are also at increased risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma due to the strain it causes on the eyes.
There are ways prevent loss of vision resulting from the disease, however the disease must be diagnosed early. In addition to making sure that you have a regular eye exam annually if you are diabetic, keeping your glucose levels under control is vital to your eye health. Keep your glucose levels within the proper range and monitor and control your blood pressure. Include exercise and proper nutrition in your lifestyle.
If you or a loved one has diabetes, be sure you are informed about the risks of diabetic eye disease and speak to your eye doctor if you have any questions. In this case, ignorance could cost you your precious eyesight