According to the CDC, approximately 34.2 million Americans have diabetes and 88 million American adults have prediabetes. Alarmingly, more people are developing type 1 and type 2 diabetes during youth, and racial and ethnic minorities continue to develop type 2 diabetes at higher rates. Diabetes is now the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults.
Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye problems that people with diabetes may face as a complication of the disease.
Ways that diabetic eye disease may affect your eyes:
* Cataract: Clouding of the lens of the eye, which can cause vision to become blurry and the colors to become dull. Besides aging, diabetes is the most common risk factor for cataract.
* Glaucoma: increases the fluid pressure inside your eye and leads to optic nerve damage and loss of side vision
* Diabetic Retinopathy (DR): is the most common diabetic eye disease causing blood vessels in the eye to leak and bleed into the retina thereby causing damage. If blood sugar is not well controlled, too much sugar in the blood leads to the blocking of blood vessels, cutting off the supply of blood. As a result, the eyes attempt to grow new vessels, but they do not develop properly and often leak, which in turn damages the retina. Most of the time, in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, symptoms usually go unnoticed. However, as the condition progresses, patients may experience symptoms such as blurred or fluctuating vision, floaters, and even vision loss.
The best way to detect early signs of diabetic eye disease and a key to preventing vision loss from diabetic retinopathy is to have a dilated eye exam annually, or as directed by their doctor. The great news is that the risk of blindness can be reduced by up to 90% when diabetic retinopathy is detected and treated early. Treatment options include medication and Laser treatments, which have been used successfully for decades. As with all conditions, early evaluation and treatment yields the greatest successful outcomes.
In addition to an annual dilated eye exam, controlling blood sugar levels by taking your diabetic medication as prescribed, maintaining a healthy diet, staying physically active, maintaining a healthy weight and refraining from smoking can also help control your diabetes, which lessens your risks of diabetic eye disease.
It is a good idea to have an annual comprehensive eye examination even if you do not suffer from diabetes and especially if you have experienced any visual problems. If you suffer from diabetes, make sure you have a comprehensive eye examination with dilation each year. Make an appointment with an experienced fellowship trained retinal specialist today.
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