Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

Posted By Key-Whitman Eye Center || 3-Nov-2014

November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month, and it may be one of the most important awareness months when it comes to eye diseases. Many people do not realize that diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults ages 20 to 64, so generating awareness of the eye condition is extremely important.November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month, and it may be one of the most important awareness months when it comes to eye diseases. Many people do not realize that diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults ages 20 to 64, so generating awareness of the eye condition is extremely important.November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month, and it may be one of the most important awareness months when it comes to eye diseases. Many people do not realize that diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults ages 20 to 64, so generating awareness of the eye condition is extremely important.

Diabetes affects nearly 30 million Americans, and the National Eye Institute estimates that 40 to 45 percent (12 to 13.5 million) Americans living with diabetes have some form of diabetic eye disease.

What is diabetic eye disease?

There are several eye conditions that can affect someone living with diabetes, including diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma. People with diabetes are 40 percent more likely to develop glaucoma and 60 percent more likely to develop cataracts than people without diabetes. The longer you have lived with diabetes, the greater your risk of developing diabetic eye disease.

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common of these conditions, affecting approximately 5.3 million Americans age 18 and older who have diabetes. Statistics suggest that nearly every individual with type 1 diabetes will eventually have non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (blockage of blood vessels in the eye), while most people with type 2 diabetes will also eventually suffer from non-proliferative diabetes. It is proliferative diabetes (the growth of new, delicate vessels in the eye), that is most likely to cause vision loss, and this type of diabetic eye disease is less common.

Diabetic retinopathy can also be one of the most dangerous eye conditions associated with diabetes. High blood glucose levels can cause the tiny blood vessels in the back of the eye to swell, leak or become blocked, cutting off nourishment to the retina. If blood flow to the retina is lost, it can result in vision loss. In some cases, the body responds by signaling the production of more blood vessels. Unfortunately, these new blood vessels are fragile and more prone to leaking, which may also cause permanent damage and even blindness.

What are the symptoms of diabetic eye disease?

Diabetics can live with a diabetic eye disease for a long time before noticing any changes in vision or symptoms. Typically, noticeable symptoms do not appear until significant damage to the eye has occurred.

In this video about common diabetic eye problems, Dr. Whitman explains that symptoms of diabetic retinopathy can range from minor symptoms such as fluctuation of vision (related to fluctuation of blood glucose levels) to severe symptoms such as bleeding in the back of the eye. At other times, there may be no symptoms at all.

Treating diabetic eye disease

Early diagnosis of diabetes significantly reduces your risk of developing cataracts, glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy due to your diabetes. Because symptoms of diabetic eye disease do not typically present until the condition is severe, it is crucial that you receive a dilated comprehensive eye exams every year if you are a diabetic. Early detection of diabetic eye disease and treatment may save your vision.

Treatment options depend on the type of diabetic eye disease you have, but include surgical procedures to stop the progression of the disease. If it has been more than a year since your last eye exam, contact Key-Whitman to schedule a comprehensive eye exam today.

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