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Be Aware During National Diabetes Month

Did you know that having diabetes increases your chances of vision loss? Diabetes is the number one cause of blindness in adults between the ages of 20 and 74 according to recent studies by the NIH. One of the most serious complications of diabetes is when the retina is damaged by an increase in 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 can be undetected until significant damage is done. Vision problems eventually develop when the blood vessels in the retina begin to leak fluid, oil and small amounts of blood. As the disease progresses, blood vessels may become completely stopped up or additional vessels may begin to form on the retina leading to permanent loss of sight.

Since symptoms are often not noticed until significant damage is done it is crucial to schedule an annual comprehensive eye exam if you have diabetes. Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include fluctuating vision, eye floaters and spots, shadows in the field of view, blurred vision, corneal abnormalities, seeing double, eye pain and near vision problems that have nothing to do with presbyopia. Cataracts and glaucoma are also more common in individuals with diabetes than in the average population.

The risk of diabetic eye disease is higher when blood sugar levels are uncontrolled. Monitoring your diabetes through diet, exercise and staying healthy and yearly eye exams is the best defense for preventing vision loss.

If you or a loved one has diabetes, make sure you are knowledgeable about the risks of diabetic eye disease and consult with your eye doctor if you have any questions. In this case, ignorance could cost you your vision