November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Did you know that 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes?

Diabetic eye disease is the #1 cause of vision loss in working age adults. 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed each year, and a large percentage remain undiagnosed. Unfortunately, 65% Americans that have diabetes do not get their annual eye exam.  If you have diabetes, it is imperative to stay on top of your eye health and get a dilated eye exam each year.  95% of diabetes related vision loss can be prevented by doing so.

Since many patients with diabetes can be symptom free for years, it is important to know your risks.  The following diseases are caused by diabetes:

Diabetic Retinopathy.  In early stages, the blood vessel walls start to weaken and tiny bulges are created. As it progresses, the blood vessels swell and leak, or close-off completely, essentially cutting of the blood supply in the retina.  Abnormal blood vessels start to grow on the retina and cause scar tissue. Your risk increases if blood sugars are not controlled, and increases the longer you have diabetes.

Diabetic Macular Edema DME is a fluid build-up in the macula, the central portion of the retina.  This swelling makes vision blurry and can cause floaters in the eye.

Cataracts Excessive blood sugar can cause cataracts.  Though aging naturally creates the proteins in the eye to break down the lens, diabetic patients have a 60% increased risk of developing them (and at younger ages than usual).

Glaucoma Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damages the optical nerve. Diabetes doubles the risk of getting glaucoma. This irreversible damage eventually leads to complete vision loss.

Take the necessary steps to protect your vision from diabetic eye diseases by doing the following:

  • Get your annual eye exam
  • Control your blood sugar
  • Maintain a healthy weight, blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Quit smoking
  • Regular exercise

You can take an online risk assessment from the American Diabetes Association for yourself or a loved one.  Managing diabetes is crucial to maintaining your vision!  Make your eye health a priority, and schedule a dilated eye exam with one of our retina specialists today!