Even many individuals with the disease are unaware of the fact that diabetes can lead to blindness. The NIH reports that in individuals between 20 and 74, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness. One of the risks 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. This condition causes severe vision impairment and even blindness. Anyone with the disease is at risk and it is projected to affect 11 million people by 2030.
In its early stages, this condition is often asymptomatic. When the pressure in the retinal blood vessels increases they begin to leak resulting in permanent damage to the retina. This can cause vision loss and when not treated, blindness.
Because symptoms are often not noticed until significant damage is done it is imperative to see your eye doctor on a yearly basis to perform a diabetic eye exam if you have diabetes. If you have diabetes and you notice any sort of vision problems, such as fluctuations in eyesight, floaters, double vision, shadows or spots or any pain in your eye make sure to see an optometrist. Diabetes also increases the risk of developing glaucoma and cataracts.
There are effective treatments to slow the progression of diabetic eye diseases and stop further loss of vision as a result of diabetes, but early diagnosis and treatment are crucial. In addition to making sure to schedule a diabetic eye exam on a yearly basis if you are diabetic, keeping your diabetes under control is vital to preserving your vision.
If you or a loved one is diabetic, be sure you are informed about preventing diabetic eye disease and consult with your optometrist to discuss questions or concerns. In this case, knowledge really is the key to a lifetime of healthy vision.