Keep sight of the dangers of diabetes
Diabetes is the number one cause of new blindness in America today. People with diabetes are at greater risk for several different eye problems.
March 14, 2014 - Author: Pam Daniels, Michigan State University Extension
Diabetes is the number one cause of new blindness in America today. People with diabetes are at greater risk for several different eye problems. They are at greater risk of:
- Cataracts – clouding of the vision; cloudiness in the lens of the eye
- Glaucoma – high pressure in the eye
- Diabetic Retinopathy – damage to the blood vessels in the retina causing irreversible vision loss
According to Medline Plus the National Institutes of Health, diabetic retinopathy is a main cause of blindness in Americans 20- to 74-years-old. People with Type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at risk of this condition.
Early on, patients with diabetic retinopathy may have no symptoms and by the time they start to have symptoms, there already be damage to the eye. Early treatment of diabetic retinopathy starts with a dilated eye examination by an eye care professional and should be part of an annual health physical.
The chance of developing retinopathy and having a more severe form is higher when:
- You have had diabetes for a long time
- Your blood sugar (glucose) has been poorly controlled
Take full advantage of your medical team. Even if the doctor who takes care of your diabetes checks your eyes, you still need an eye exam every one to two years by an eye doctor (see below). Whether you are a diabetic or not, report any changes in vision to your health care provider.
Common symptoms to report are:
- Blurry or double vision
- Rings, flashing lights or blank spots
- Dark or floating spots
- Pain or pressure in one or both of your eyes
- Trouble seeing things out of the corners of your eyes
To treat vision problems you may see two different types of eye doctors:
- An optometrist is a health care provider trained to diagnose and treat eye problems. Many can do screening exams for damage from diabetes. If you have eye disease caused by diabetes, you will see an ophthalmologist.
- An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor trained to diagnose and treat eye problems
Keep sight of your eye health! Vision care is painless, readily available and easy. Michigan State University Extension has diabetic programs to help manage ones diabetes. Don’t let diabetes be in charge of your vision.