Even many people with the disease are unaware of the fact that diabetes increases the chances vision loss. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) diabetes is the number one cause of complete vision loss among individuals under 75. One of the most serious complications of diabetes is when the retina is damaged by an increase in pressure in the blood vessels of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most incapacitating complications of the disease and it is projected to affect 11 million people by 2030.
Diabetic retinopathy is often unnoticed until it is too late. When the pressure in the retinal blood vessels builds up they begin to leak causing retinal damage. This damage can cause eventual blindness if it is not treated.
Symptoms of developing diabetic retinopathy include any kind of vision problems such as fluctuations, spots, shadows, double or blurred vision or pain. Diabetes also increases the risk of developing glaucoma and cataracts.
With early detection and treatment, we can prevent loss of eyesight. In addition to making sure that you have a regular eye exam annually if you are diabetic, keeping your diabetes under control is necessary to keeping your eyes healthy.
If you or a loved one has diabetes, make sure you know the risks of diabetic retinopathy and other eye risks and speak to your optometrist to discuss questions or concerns. It could mean the difference between a life of sight and one of darkness.