Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month
It’s important to take steps now to prevent vision loss or blindness from diabetes-related eye conditions.
People with diabetes are more likely to develop eye disease, yet studies show awareness of the correlation between diabetes and eye disease is generally low. November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month, a good time to learn the basics about how diabetes affects eye health, and what can be done to protect your vision.
Diabetic Eye Disease
Diabetes is the leading cause of vision loss in people 18–64 years old, according to the American Diabetes Association. Some diabetic eye diseases have no signs or symptoms until they are hard to ignore. These symptoms include changes in vision, dark spots or ‘floaters’, flashes of light, and even vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and usually affects both eyes. It is caused by high blood sugar that damages blood vessels in the retina (a light-sensitive layer of cells in the back of the eye). Damaged blood vessels can swell and leak, causing changes in vision or a loss of blood flow.
Diabetic Macular Edema
The macula is the part of your retina that you need for reading, driving, and seeing faces. Diabetes can lead to swelling in the macula, called diabetic macular edema. This condition can lead to permanent vision loss, and usually develops in people who already have other signs of diabetic retinopathy.
Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, which tends to happen as people age. People with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts at an earlier age than those without diabetes. Surgery may be required to remove lenses clouded by the effects of diabetes.
Glaucoma affects the eye’s optic nerve (the bundle of nerves that connects the eye to the brain). It usually happens when fluid builds up in the front part of the eye, increasing the pressure in the eye and damaging the optic nerve. This can lead to irreversible loss of vision or blindness if not treated early. Having diabetes doubles a person’s chance of getting glaucoma.
Preventing Complications from Diabetes
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that about 90% of vision loss from diabetes can be prevented. Early detection, however, is key.
Ways to prevent diabetic eye disease include:
- Get a dilated eye exam at least once a year so your eye doctor can spot any problems early when they’re most treatable.
- Manage your blood sugar.
- Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in your target range.
- Quit smoking.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity protects your eyes and helps you manage diabetes.
Remember, early detection by a professional could save your vision.
Managing your diabetes and having a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year are effective ways to prevent vision loss or blindness due to diabetes. The team of physicians at Sterling Vision has the expertise to detect problems early to preserve your vision. To schedule an appointment with us, call 541-262-0597 or schedule online.
For additional resources, visit our comprehensive wiki at diabeticeyecareeugene.com.