Even many individuals with the disease are not aware that diabetes increases the chances vision loss. Diabetes is the primary cause of blindness in adults under 75 years old according to recent studies by the National Institute of Health. One of the most serious complications of diabetes is retinal damage caused by increased pressure in the blood vessels of the eye, which is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a particularly serious complication of the disease and it is projected to affect 11 million people by 2030.
Diabetic retinopathy is often undetected until considerable damage is done. Loss of sight occurs when the retinal blood vessels begin to leak into the retina. As the disease develops, blood vessels may become blocked or additional vessels may begin to grow on the retina leading to permanent loss of sight.
Because symptoms are often not seen until it is too late it is crucial to see your optometrist annually to perform a comprehensive eye exam if you have diabetes. Warning signs of developing diabetic retinopathy include any kind of vision problems such as fluctuations, spots, shadows, double or blurred vision or pain. Diabetes also increases the risk of developing glaucoma and cataracts.
All diabetic eye diseases are more damaging when glucose levels are uncontrolled. Monitoring your diabetes through diet, exercise and staying healthy and yearly eye exams is the best combination for preventing vision loss.
If you or a loved one has diabetes, make sure you are informed about the risks of diabetic retinopathy and other eye risks and consult with your eye doctor to discuss questions or concerns. It could mean the difference between a life of sight and one of darkness.