Diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of blindness, often with no early warning signs. However, early detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up care are the only ways to help prevent vision loss. We want to share, empower, encourage, and help spread the word about diabetic eye disease. According to the National Eye Institute, by 2030, an estimated 11 million people will have diabetic retinopathy.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to produce or use insulin effectively to control blood sugar (glucose) levels. Too much glucose in the blood for a long time can cause damage to many parts of the body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 34 million American adults live with diabetes, and around 88 million Americans live with prediabetes. However, nearly 85% are unaware.
If you are at risk for diabetes, you are also at risk for diabetes-related eye disease and vision loss, but a comprehensive eye exam can help catch any eye health issues. Around 20% of people first learn they have diabetes as a result of a comprehensive eye exam.
What Is Diabetic Eye Disease?
Diabetic eye disease is a term for many eye problems that can be a result of diabetes. Here is a list of diabetic eye diseases and diagrams of the eye from the American Academy of Ophthalmology to enhance your knowledge:
- Diabetic Retinopathy – is when blood vessels in the retina swell, leak, or close off completely. Abnormal new blood vessels can also grow on the surface of the retina.
- Diabetic Macular Edema – Macular edema happens when fluid builds up on the retina and causes swelling and blurry vision. Diabetic macular edema can lead to permanent vision loss.
- Diabetes and Cataracts – Excess blood sugar from diabetes can cause cataracts. You may need cataract surgery to remove lenses that are clouded by the effects of diabetes. Maintaining good control of your blood sugar helps prevent permanent clouding of the lens.
- Diabetes and Glaucoma – Glaucoma is a group of diseases that cause damage to your eye’s optic nerve. This damage leads to irreversible loss of vision. Having diabetes doubles your chance of getting glaucoma.
Keep Your Eye Health on TRACK!
Make YOUR eye health a priority during National Diabetes Month and Diabetic Eye Disease Month by taking the following steps to protect your vision and prevent eye damage from diabetes.
- Maintain good blood sugar control.
- Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels within your target range to lower your risk for vision loss and eye diseases.
- Quit smoking. Quitting smoking lowers your risk for diabetes-related eye diseases and improves your health in many other ways.
- If you have delayed scheduling your eye exam with your eye doctor, now is the perfect time to get back on track to call and schedule TODAY! Also, please be sure to ALWAYS complete all follow-up exams your eye doctor recommends.