Diabetes is a complex disease that can cause serious medical complications, including diabetic eye disease. Perhaps the most commonly known diabetic eye disease is diabetic retinopathy, a condition in which blood vessels in the back of the eye leak into the eye. Though diabetic retinopathy is common among diabetics, individuals suffering from diabetes can also be at increased risk of developing cataracts or glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a condition in which the fluid in the eye does not flow normally, resulting in increased pressure in the eye, which could result in blindness. Individuals with a family history of the disease, high blood pressure and high blood sugar (often caused by diabetes) are at higher risk of developing the eye disease.
Research suggests individuals with diabetes are twice as likely to develop open-angle glaucoma as non-diabetics. One study performed between 2001 and 2007 showed that diabetes could increase one’s risk of developing open-angle glaucoma by as much as 35 percent. Hypertension increases risk of developing the disease by 17 percent and individuals with both hypertension and diabetes are 48 percent more likely to develop open-angle glaucoma.
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the eye disease, which is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. More than 2.2 million people in the United States have glaucoma. Symptoms of open-angle diabetes typically do not present themselves until the disease has progressed, making it more difficult to treat.
While vision loss caused by glaucoma cannot be regained, early detection and proper treatment could slow the effects of the disease, potentially preventing blindness. Treatment of glaucoma typically consists of prescription eye drops to reduce the buildup of pressure in the eye.
The National Eye Institute recommends that diabetics undergo a dilated eye exam annually. If you have a family history of glaucoma, suffer from hypertension, or are diabetic, contact Key-Whitman today for a comprehensive eye exam.
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