Diabetes is a disease that profoundly affects many areas of your body, including your eyes. It increases your risk for eye conditions, such as glaucoma and cataracts. The primary concern for eye health in people with diabetes is the development of diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that develops when the blood vessels in your retina become damaged. The retina is the light-sensitive portion of the back of your eye. As the damage worsens, you may begin losing your vision. Your eyesight may become blurry, less intense, and begin to disappear.
Recent health studies reveal that as many as 24,000 people lose their sight every year to diabetes and diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness in the US. Here are some other surprising facts about diabetes.
- 54 million Americans have pre-diabetes and most don’t know it
- Nearly 24 million Americans have diabetes
- One in three people with diabetes don’t know they have it
- Recent research by the US. National Eye Institute showed that 8% of pre-diabetics were already showing signs of retinopathy
- Lifestyle risks for diabetes are physical inactivity, poor diet, and obesity
- Diabetes has genetic factors like family history and ethnicity—Black Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Asian and Paciﬁc Islanders are at higher risk
- Others at higher risk include older individuals, those with gestational diabetes, and babies weighing more than nine pounds at birth
Approximately 90% of diabetes related blindness can be avoided by getting an annual eye exam. In its earliest stages, diabetic retinopathy may cause no symptoms. The initial symptoms may be barely noticeable or mild. Over time, the condition can worsen and lead to partial and then complete blindness.
You should give our office a call to schedule an appointment if you experience any of the symptoms below:
- Floaters, or dots and dark strings, in your ﬁeld of vision
- Dark or empty areas in your ﬁeld of vision
- Blurry vision
- Difﬁculty focusing
- Vision changes that seem to ﬂuctuate
- Altered color vision
- Partial or total vision loss