Diabetes is one of the most prevalent diseases that without proper control can result in many complications. November is Diabetic Eye Disease Month and can be a good reminder to pay close attention to your peepers!

Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye conditions that can affect people with diabetes. This includes Diabetic retinopathy, Diabetic macular edema (DME,) cataract, and glaucoma. These can all lead to vision loss or blindness. While many people are affected by cataracts and glaucoma as they age, Diabetics are much more likely to develop these conditions.

Conditions

Diabetic Retinopathy is a progressive disease that can result from chronically high blood sugar from diabetes. This causes damage to the tiny blood vessels in the retina which can lead to them to leaking fluid or hemorrhaging which distorts vision. In its most advanced stage, new abnormal blood vessels increase in number on the surface of the retina, which can lead to scarring and cell loss in the retina. Unfortunately, more than half of the diabetics who have Diabetic Retinopathy will develop Diabetic Macular Edema (DME). DME is a buildup of fluid and is the most common reason for vision loss associated with Diabetic Retinopathy.

The risk of developing Diabetes Retinopathy increases the longer a person has diabetes, so it’s important to make sure to get yearly eye exams. The early stages of the disease have little to no symptoms, so someone may not know there is an issue until vision is disrupted. One visual disturbance that is common is the appearance of floating spots in the visual field, be sure to follow up with your doctor promptly if you notice this. Vision loss associated with Diabetic Retinopathy is irreversible, so follow the tips to the right to help prevent this condition.

Prevention is Key!

  • Complete a yearly checkup. Diabetics should complete a comprehensive dilated eye exam once a year, possible more frequently as indicated by your doctor
  • Manage Diabetes. Maintaining a healthy blood glucose level can reduce the risk of developing or worsening eye conditions.
  • Control blood pressure and cholesterol. Keeping these numbers in a healthy range can reduce the risk of vision loss amongst Diabetics.

Sources: National Eye Institute. Lifework Strategies, Adventist HealthCare. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.