Did you know Diabetes can affect your vision?
Diabetes is a debilitating disease affecting over 29 million Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one-fourth of this population is not diagnosed. Although most commonly associated with controlling blood sugar levels, diabetes is a systemic disease that, left untreated or poorly managed, can cause damage throughout the body including the heart, kidneys and retina. It is also a leading cause of blindness in the US (National Eye Institute).
November is recognized as National Diabetes Month. Take the time to learn your risk factors and, if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, learn how you can protect your vision.
Diabetes’ impact on the eyes
Diabetes causes progressive nerve damage and damage to the blood vessels leading to the retina, resulting in several types of diabetic eye disease:
- Diabetic retinopathy: When the blood vessels are damaged, they will leak blood or other fluids, causing distorted vision and blindness.
- Diabetic macular edema: The macula is in the center of the retina, and enables sharp central vision. Diabetic retinopathy can cause the macula to swell: blurring vision.
- Cataracts: Although most people will develop cataracts, diabetics often develop cataracts earlier in life.
- Glaucoma: Glaucoma is damage to the optic nerve due to elevated pressure in the eye. Diabetics are twice as likely to develop glaucoma than other people.
Diabetics can protect their vision and improve their health by:
- Managing blood sugar levels through good nutrition, exercise and (if prescribed) medication;
- Regular doctor visits to monitor HBA1C (blood glucose) levels and kidney function;
- Annual complete dilated eye exams. In a dilated exam, your eye doctor can see things that might not be apparent through a routine vision screening.
For more information on Diabetic Eye Disease and protecting your vision, contact Performance Eyecare.