Nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes.
As many as 25 to 45 percent of diabetics will develop some form of
diabetic eye disease, also known as diabetic retinopathy.
November is American Diabetes Month. If you have diabetes or prediabetes,
it is important that you educate yourself on the potential health complications
associated with the disease and how to prevent them.
What is diabetic eye disease?
Diabetic retinopathy is an
eye condition that occurs when the blood vessels in the back of the eye become weak
and leak fluid. In some cases, abnormal blood vessels begin to grow on
the surface of the retina. These abnormal vessels can hemorrhage, causing
Diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of blindness in adults ages 20
to 64, and is one of the most common causes of retinal blindness in the world.
What are the symptoms of diabetic eye disease?
Diabetics can live with diabetic eye disease for a long time before noticing
any changes in vision or symptoms. In most cases, noticeable symptoms
do not appear until significant damage to the eye has occurred. Symptoms
of diabetic eye disease include:
• Blurred or distorted vision
• Difficulty reading
• Seeing double
• Floaters or spots in the field of vision
• Partial or total vision loss
Who is at risk of developing diabetic eye disease?
Diabetic retinopathy is the result of diabetes, but not all diabetics will
develop the eye condition. Some diabetics are at higher risk of developing
diabetic retinopathy. These risk factors include:
• Poor management of diabetes
• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol
• Lack of preventative eye care
How can diabetic eye disease be prevented?
If you are a diabetic, you can reduce your risk of developing eye disease
by following these tips:
Properly manage your diabetes. Make a commitment to eat a healthy diet and make physical exercise a priority.
Regular, moderate aerobic activity, such as walking, can reduce your risk
of developing diabetic retinopathy. It’s also important to closely
monitor your blood sugar. Too much fluctuation in your blood glucose levels
can affect your vision.
Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in check. High blood pressure and cholesterol elevate your risk of developing eye
disease. You can manage your blood pressure and cholesterol by eating
a healthy diet, exercising regularly, losing weight and managing stress.
Quit smoking.Smoking and other tobacco use increases risk of a number of health conditions,
including diabetic retinopathy. Enroll in a smoking cessation program
or ask your doctor for advice on how to quit smoking.
Maintain yearly eye exams. Early detection is key. Keep up with your yearly eye exams so that your
doctor can diagnose any early signs of diabetic retinopathy before it’s
too late. If you notice sudden changes in your vision, contact your doctor
Diabetics can live with diabetic retinopathy for a long time before noticing
any changes in vision or symptoms. Noticeable symptoms typically do not
appear until significant damage to the eye has occurred. Because symptoms
do not typically present until the condition is severe, it is crucial
that you maintain regular eye exams if you are a diabetic. Early detection
and treatment may save your vision. If you have diabetes,
schedule a comprehensive eye exam with Key-Whitman Eye Center today.