Far too many people are unaware of the fact that diabetes increases the chances of vision loss. In reality, diabetes is the leading cause of loss of sight in adults under 75 years old. One of the most serious complications of diabetes is when the retina is damaged by increased pressure in the blood vessels of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy. This condition causes severe vision impairment and even blindness and is a risk for anyone with the disease.
Early on, diabetic retinopathy often presents no noticeable symptoms. Vision problems eventually develop when the blood vessels in the retina begin to leak fluid, oil and small amounts of blood. When it is not diagnosed, blood vessels may be completely stopped up or additional vessels may begin to grow on the retina leading to irreparable vision loss.
Since symptoms are often not seen until vision is already at risk, it is crucial to have a yearly comprehensive eye exam if you have diabetes. Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include fluctuating vision, eye floaters and spots, the development of a shadow in your field of view, blurry vision, corneal abnormalities, seeing double, eye pain and near vision problems that have nothing to do with presbyopia. Diabetics are also at increased risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma due to the strain it causes on the eyes.
All diabetic eye diseases are more damaging when blood sugar levels are uncontrolled. Carefully monitoring your diabetes through diet, exercise and staying healthy and annual eye exams is the best defense for preventing vision loss.
This month, spread awareness of the risks of diabetic retinopathy and speak to your eye doctor to discuss questions or concerns. In this case, ignorance could cost you your vision.