As if diabetes isn’t debilitating enough, it can also cause complications potentially causing severe vision loss. Such complications include diabetic retinopathy, cataracts (the clouding of the eyes) and glaucoma (optic nerve damage caused by increased fluid pressure).
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the blood vessels to the retina get damaged. Blood sugar abnormalities caused by diabetes may cause changes in the walls of these blood vessels, causing them to balloon and even leak fluid and blood into the retina. This is called background diabetic retinopathy. If fluid accumulates in the central part of the retina and causes swelling, this is called macular edema.
There are often no symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, which is why comprehensive eye exams are crucial for people suffering from diabetes. Eventual symptoms may include specks of blood floating in your vision. Since more bleeding may occur, you’ll need to see an eye care professional as soon as possible. Left untreated, the leakage of fluids can cause permanent vision loss.
People with diabetes can minimize the risk of diabetic complications by maintaining normal weight levels, watching diet, exercising, and refraining from smoking. Diabetic patients should also be sure to monitor blood sugars and take prescribed medications.
Since there are as many as 41 million people in the United States with pre-diabetes, we all have to take steps to avoid the development of diabetes by living healthy. The right lifestyle choices, coupled with regular eye exams, should help avoid diabetic eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy.
To schedule an eyes exam with one of our eye care specialists, please call us at 877-871-1684.
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