Did you know that November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness month? Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in working age people in America. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, approximately 29 million Americans age 20 or older have diabetes, but almost one-third don’t know they have the disease and are at risk for vision loss and other health problems. Early symptoms often go undetected, therefore vision may not be affected until the disease is severe and not so easily treated. Diabetic eye disease includes diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma.
The most common of these is diabetic retinopathy. This disease affects 5.3 million Americans age 18 and older. Diabetic retinopathy is a potentially blinding condition in which the blood vessels inside the retina become damaged from the high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes. This leads to fluids leaking into the retina and obstructing blood flow. Both may cause severe vision loss. Once you are diagnosed with diabetes, schedule a complete dilated eye examination with Dr. Reinders if you experience blurred vision and/or floaters that:
- Affect only one eye;
- Last more than a few days;
- Not associated with a change in blood sugar.
Diabetes can also affect your vision by causing cataracts and glaucoma. If you have diabetes, you may get cataracts at a younger age, and your chances of developing glaucoma are doubled. In order to help avoid getting eye diseases associated with diabetes the following factors are vital. First of all, early diagnosis of diabetes is key. The most important factor (once you’ve received the diagnosis) is maintaining strict control of blood sugar and hypertension through diet, exercise and medication.