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November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness month

Diabetes affects an estimated 30 million Americans. That number is expected to rise in the coming years.

Of those 30 million diabetics, about 10 million of them have no idea they have diabetes!

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when diabetes negatively affects your vision. It accounts for as many as 24,000 cases of blindness every year. This makes diabetes the leading cause of vision loss for people under the age of 74. The above pictures show an example of diabetic retinopathy, characterized by hemorrhages (the red spots) and exudates (the yellow-white spots). This particular patient also has retinal pigment epithelium clumping changes in the macula (the black spots).

What is diabetes?

There are two types of diabetes.

  • Type 1 is usually diagnosed in childhood or young adulthood. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form. When you eat, your body needs to produce insulin in order to transport the “energy” from your food into the cells in your body. In Type 1, the body is unable to produce insulin and the person must take injectable insulin.
  • Type 2 accounts for 95% of diabetics and is usually diagnosed in adulthood. This occurs when the body doesn’t use its insulin properly, known as insulin resistance. Your pancreas tries to make extra insulin to help out. As the disease progresses, the body is unable to make enough insulin and then injectable insulin will be required.

Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, eating nutritious, and staying active. Type 2 diabetes increases your risk of stroke, cancer, heart disease, and other problems.

Many times, your optometrist can be the one who discovers that a patient has diabetes; simply by looking inside the eye!

How can diabetes affect the eyes?

Diabetes can cause a number of problems with the eyes. The most serious complication is blindness, due to diabetic retinopathy. When your blood sugar is too high, the blood vessels in your body become “leaky”. They will also become leaky in the retina, in the back of the eye. Blood is toxic to the retina and can damage it over time. If the bleeding occurs in the macula (your central vision), vision is threatened!

Less serious, but important complications of diabetes, can include blurry vision, changes in eyeglasses prescriptions, night blindness, and decreased corneal healing. Diabetes also increased your risk of developing cataracts by 60% and increases your risk of glaucoma by 40%.

This is why it is so important to control your blood sugar and keep it at the level your diabetic doctor recommends.

Vision Source Mandan sees diabetic patients!

It is very important for diabetics to have a dilated eye exam once per year. We can aid your diabetic doctor in your diabetes management and can watch for any signs of diabetic retinopathy.

Top image property of Vision Source Mandan and is not to be used without written permission.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.