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Diabetes Awareness Month: Diabetic Retinopathy

Even many people with the disease are unaware of the fact that diabetes increases the risk of vision loss. The NIH reports that diabetes is the primary cause of blindness in individuals under 75. One of the most serious complications of diabetes is when the retina is damaged by excessive pressure in the blood vessels of the eye, which is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy causes severe vision impairment and even blindness. Anyone with the disease is at risk and it has affected over 3.7 million people in America since 2002.

Diabetic retinopathy can be asymptomatic until there has been significant vision loss. When the pressure in the retinal blood vessels increases they begin to leak resulting in retinal damage. This will result in vision loss and when not treated, blindness.

Because symptoms are often not seen until it is too late it is crucial to book a yearly comprehensive eye exam if you are diabetic. Symptoms of 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 blood sugar levels are uncontrolled. Monitoring your sugar levels through diet, exercise and staying healthy and yearly eye exams is the best combination for keeping your eyes healthy.

If you or a loved one has diabetes, be sure you are informed about preventing diabetic eye disease and consult with your eye doctor to discuss questions or concerns. It could mean the difference between a life of sight and one of darkness.

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