More than half of Americans with diabetes don’t even know they have the disease. These people are at risk for vision loss and other health problems if their conditions go untreated.
What is Diabetic Eye Disease?
Poorly regulated and high blood sugar levels can cause changes in the optics of the eye, resulting in blurred vision and trouble focusing. The nerves that control the alignment and movement of the eyes can be damaged by diabetes causing further vision problems. Diabetics are more susceptible to getting cataracts, as well as optic nerve damage from glaucoma.
25% of diabetics have some form of retinopathy, the most important cause of visual impairment in people with diabetes. It is a condition in which changes occur in the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. In the early stages, small blood vessels weaken and leak fluid or tiny amounts of blood, which distort the retina slightly. In most cases, the condition does not progress to more severe problems.
The chances of having some form of diabetic retinopathy increase the longer a person has had diabetes. Retinopathy is present in 90 percent of those who have had the disease for more than 20 years. Research has shown that if diagnosed early enough, laser treatment may prevent or delay severe visual loss from diabetic retinopathy. Annual eye exams are a must for diabetics.
The risk of developing diabetic retinopathy can be significantly reduced by using common sense and taking good care of him or herself:
- Keep blood sugar under good control.
- Monitor blood pressure and keep it under good control, or seek appropriate care.
- Maintain a healthy diet.
- Exercise regularly.
- See an eye doctor for a dilated eye exam at least once a year.
If you have diabetes and you’ve noticed your vision has become blurred, you’re having difficulty doing close work such as reading, or if vision becomes spotty or hazy, contact your doctor at Manchester Ophthalmology right away.