Even many people with the disease are not aware that diabetes increases the risk of vision threatening eye damage. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) in individuals between 20 and 74, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness. One of the most serious complications of diabetes is retinal damage caused by excessive 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 is projected to affect 11 million people by 2030.
Diabetic retinopathy is often asymptomatic until significant damage is done. Vision problems eventually develop when the blood vessels in the retina begin to leak into the retina. As the disease progresses, blood vessels may become completely stopped up or new unwanted vessels may begin to form on the retina leading to irreparable vision loss.
If you have diabetes 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 schedule a visit with your optometrist. In addition to diabetic retinopathy, diabetics are at increased risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma.
All diabetic eye diseases are more damaging 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, be sure you are knowledgeable about preventing diabetic retinopathy and other eye risks and consult with your optometrist to discuss questions or concerns. In this case, ignorance could cost you your vision