Far too many people are not aware that diabetes can lead to vision threatening eye damage. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults under 75 years old according to the National Institute of Health. One of the most serious complications of diabetes is retinal damage caused by increased pressure in the blood vessels of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy. This condition causes severe vision impairment and even blindness. Anyone with the disease is at risk and it has affected over 3.7 million people in the U.S. since 2002.
In its early stages, this condition is often asymptomatic. Vision problems occur when the retinal blood vessels begin to leak fluid, oil and small amounts of blood. When it is not treated, blood vessels may become blocked or new vessels may begin to grow on the retina leading to permanent vision loss.
Because symptoms are often not noticed until significant damage is done it is important to book an annual diabetic eye exam if you have diabetes. Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include fluctuating vision, eye floaters and spots, the development of a shadow in your field of view, blurred vision, corneal abnormalities, double vision, 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 the disease is uncontrolled. Carefully monitoring your diabetes through diet, exercise and staying healthy and yearly eye exams is the best combination for keeping your eyes healthy.
If you or a loved one is diabetic, make sure you are knowledgeable about preventing diabetic eye disease and speak to your optometrist if you have any questions. In this case, ignorance could cost you your precious eyesight