Even many people with the disease are unaware of the fact that diabetes increases the chances blindness. Diabetes is the number one cause of blindness in adults under 75 years old according to recent studies by the NIH. One of the risks of diabetes is when the retina is damaged by increased pressure in the blood vessels of the eye, which is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most incapacitating complications of the disease and it has affected over 3.7 million people in America since 2002.
Diabetic retinopathy can be unnoticed until there has been significant vision loss. Loss of sight ultimately develops when the retinal blood vessels begin to leak fluid, oil and small amounts of blood into the retina. When it is not detected, blood vessels could become completely stopped up or new unwanted vessels may form on the retina leading to permanent vision loss.
Since signs are often not seen until it is too late it is imperative to have a yearly comprehensive eye exam if you have diabetes. If you are diabetic 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. Diabetics are also at increased risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma due to the strain it causes on the eyes.
The risk of diabetic eye disease is higher when glucose levels are uncontrolled. Carefully monitoring your sugar levels through diet, exercise and staying healthy and yearly eye exams is the best defense for keeping your eyes healthy.
If you or a loved one has diabetes, make sure you know the risks of diabetic eye disease and speak to your optometrist to discuss questions or concerns. It could mean the difference between a life of sight and one of darkness.