November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month
November 2nd, 2015 by Carolina Eye Associates
Did you know that diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in working-age Americans? Diabetes affects nearly 30 million Americans, and the National Eye Institute estimates that 40 to 45 percent (12 to 13.5 million) Americans living with diabetes have some form of diabetic eye disease.
Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye conditions that can affect people with diabetes. Eye problems that affect those who have diabetes include cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.
- Diabetic retinopathy is a potentially blinding condition in which the blood vessels inside the retina become damaged from high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes. This damage prevents the eye from receiving the blood and oxygen it requires and may lead to severe vision loss. It is the most common vision complication associated with diabetes.
- A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. Cataracts also tend to develop at a younger age in people with diabetes.
- Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve—the bundle of nerve fibers that connects the eye to the brain. Some types of glaucoma are associated with elevated pressure inside the eye. With diabetes your chances of developing glaucoma are doubled.
All forms of diabetic eye disease have the potential to cause severe vision loss and blindness.
To maintain healthy vision with diabetes, ophthalmic professionals recommend the following:
- Get a comprehensive dilated eye examination at least once a year (or more often if recommended by your doctor).
- Work with your medical doctor to control your blood sugar.
- Maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Exercise regularly.
- Quit smoking, or never start.
Diabetics can live with diabetic eye disease for a long time before noticing any changes in vision or symptoms. Typically, noticeable symptoms do not appear until significant damage to the eye has already occurred.
Early diagnosis of diabetes significantly reduces your risk of developing cataracts, glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy due to your diabetes. Because symptoms of diabetic eye disease do not typically present until the condition is severe, it is crucial that you receive a dilated comprehensive eye exam at least every year if you are a diabetic. Early detection of diabetic eye disease and treatment may save your vision.
Treatment options depend on the type of diabetic eye disease you have, but include surgical procedures to stop the progression of the disease.
For more information on diabetic eye disease call (910) 295-2100 or toll-free at (800) 733-5357.
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