If you have diabetes, it’s important that you regularly see an eye doctor. Diabetes is the leading cause of vision impairment among working age adults in the US, and diabetics have 25 times the risk for vision loss than people without the disease.
How can diabetes harm your vision? Diabetes is a serious medical condition where your body can’t produce enough insulin to break down a sugar, known as glucose, in the blood. A high level of glucose in your blood can cause a host of health problems, damaging your circulatory system and impacting your organs including your heart, brain, kidneys and your eyes. Your retinas have a network of blood veins and sensory nerves in the back of the eyes, which can also be damaged by diabetes.
Diabetic eye disease is the name for a group of eye problems that can be caused by diabetes, all of which can lead to severe vision loss or even blindness. These include:
- Diabetic Retinopathy – Damage to the blood vessels inside the retina, causing weak arteries, leaking blood vessels, small hemorrhages, swelling, oxygen-depravation, and even retinal detachment or glaucoma.
- Cataracts – The clouding of the lens of the eye. While common among older adults, diabetics can develop cataracts at an earlier age.
- Glaucoma – An increase in fluid pressure inside the eye that can lead to optic nerve damage and loss of vision. A diabetic is nearly twice as likely to get glaucoma as other adults.
Diabetic Retinopathy, in particular, is only caused by diabetes. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they are to have diabetic retinopathy. This condition can cause symptoms such as blurred vision, sudden vision loss, “floaters” or spots in the vision, and flashes of light.
There are several tests that an eye doctor can perform to determine if you have the disease, and if you do, there are treatments available to slow its progression and help to decrease the risk of vision loss. However, it’s important to catch it early. Once damage to your retina has occurred, the effects are hard to reverse.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 95% of those with significant diabetic retinopathy can avoid substantial vision loss if they are treated in time.
This is why it’s so important that you get your annual eye exam – it could save your sight!
The Centers for Disease Control reports that more than 34 million Americans have diabetes, but more than 7 million of those don’t know they have it. So even if you think you aren’t diabetic, you should still visit your eye doctor for regular exams.
We’d love to help. Tyson Eye is regarded as one of the premier eye care centers in Southwest Florida. Our surgeons and doctors have helped thousands of people with their vision and have consistently introduced break-through technology to the area. We can help you protect your eyes from a range of diabetic eye conditions. Tyson Eye is committed to excellence by delivering modern technology with old fashioned concern. If you are having vision problems or are concerned about how your diabetes could impact your sight, we can help. Book an appointment with us today or call 239-542-2020.