November is Diabetic Eye Awareness Month
October 31st, 2014 by Carolina Eye Associates
Diabetic Eye is on the Rise
In the United States, diabetes is the leading cause of new blindness in adults 24-75 years of age. The rate is projected to climb to 11 million by 2030. Diabetic retinopathy is one cause of diabetic eye damage and the major cause of decreased vision. Almost every person with diabetes develops some type of eye blood vessel problem. When blood sugar levels become too high, the blood vessels in the back of the eye become damaged. These blood vessels begin to leak blood and fluid into the eye (macular edema). The damaged blood vessels also become poor transporters of blood and oxygen, causing ischemia (death) of the tissue in the eye responsible for sight. This leads to growth of bad blood vessels that can bleed into the eye and cause scar tissue (diabetic retinopathy). Advanced stages of diabetic eye disease can lead to decreased central vision (used for reading, driving, and facial recognition) and peripheral vision due to retinal detachment.
Symptoms may be non-existent in the early stages of the condition. Often, people who have diabetes maintain normal vision and are without symptoms until the eye disease has progressed to a significant level. As the condition progresses, symptoms may include small shadows or “floaters” in the peripheral vision, difficulty reading, decreased near vision, difficulty driving, and double vision. At advanced stages, the eyes may become painful and permanently blind.
How can I take better care of myself? If you have diabetes, work closely with your primary care physician to keep your blood sugar and blood pressure under good control. Use diet and exercise to supplement the medications prescribed by your physician. Schedule a dilated eye exam at least once each year (more often if your doctor is concerned that you may be at a higher risk of developing diabetic eye disease). Tell your eye doctor immediately if your vision changes in any way, as this may be the first sign of potentially serious problems.
Carolina Eye Associates is one of the largest eye care providers in the Southeast and has been serving North Carolina for over 37 years. Carolina Eye doctors Arghavan Almony, MD and Gregory Mincey, MD, are Diabetic Eye, Retina and Vitreous Specialists. If you need more information on diabetic eye or other eye diseases visit www.carolinaeye.com or 910-295-2100.
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