November 04, 2020
National Diabetic Eye Disease Month takes place every November and works to raise awareness about the importance of early detection and prevention for various diabetic eye health issues.
Diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness for many Americans. In honor of National Diabetic Eye Disease Month, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to diabetic eye diseases and what you can do to prevent them.
Elevated blood sugar levels caused by diabetes can contribute to a variety of diabetic eye diseases. The most common is diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy affects more than eight million people. Generally, this occurs when the blood vessels in the retina swell, leak, or close off completely due to elevated blood sugar levels. This eye disease may also lead to abnormal blood vessel growth on the surface of the retina.
Symptoms for diabetic retinopathy include seeing dark floaters in your vision, changes in focus and overall vision, and impaired color vision.
Macular edema is a complication of diabetic retinopathy. When high blood sugar levels begin to damage the blood vessels in the eye, they can start leaking fluid and even small amounts of blood into the retina. When this happens, the fluid causes the macula to swell.
The macula is responsible for central vision. It allows you to read, recognize faces, and focus on nearby objects. As it begins to swell, vision becomes distorted, and when left untreated, macular edema can even result in severe vision loss and blindness.
Macular edema is usually painless, but various symptoms will emerge as it develops. These symptoms include blurry central vision and changes in color vision.
Cataracts and Glaucoma
Cataracts and glaucoma can also affect those with diabetes. In fact, the National Eye Institute states that people with diabetes are more likely to develop both cataracts and glaucoma because of their elevated blood sugar levels.
How to Prevent Diabetic Eye Diseases
Early detection is key when it comes to preventing diabetic eye diseases. That’s why it’s so important to get a comprehensive dilated eye exam every year. These appointments will allow your doctor to spot diabetic eye disease and provide immediate treatment in its early stages to prevent future health issues.
Also, maintaining normal blood sugar levels has helped prevent and slow the development of diabetic eye diseases. Taking prescribed medications, adhering to a healthy diet, and following a fitness regimen are just a few ways to control your blood sugar.
If your diabetic eye disease does not improve with lifestyle changes, medications and surgeries may be necessary to help restore vision and overall eye health. For example, laser eye surgery can help minimize the growth of abnormal blood vessels and reduce swelling.
Diabetic eye diseases can be debilitating, but they can be prevented with the right treatment options and lifestyle changes.
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