Too many people are not informed that diabetes can lead to vision loss. Diabetes is the main cause of total vision loss in adults under 75 years old according to the National Institute of Health. 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. Anyone with the disease is at risk and it is projected to affect 11 million people by 2030.
Early on, diabetic retinopathy often presents no noticeable symptoms. Vision loss occurs when the retinal blood vessels begin to leak. As the disease develops, blood vessels could become completely stopped up or additional vessels may begin to grow on the retina leading to irreparable loss of sight.
Because symptoms are often not seen until it is too late it is important to see your optometrist annually to perform a comprehensive eye exam if you are diabetic. Symptoms of developing 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. Cataracts and glaucoma are also more common in individuals with diabetes than in the average population.
All diabetic eye diseases are more damaging when the disease is uncontrolled. Carefully monitoring your sugar levels through diet, exercise and staying healthy and yearly eye exams is the best combination for preventing vision loss.
If you or a loved one is diabetic, be sure you are knowledgeable about the risks of diabetic retinopathy and other eye risks and speak to your optometrist if you have any questions. It could mean the difference between a life of sight and one of darkness.