Diabetic Retinopathy and Other Eye Complications
Patients with Diabetes have a higher risk for blindness, although few diabetic patients actually go blind. Instead, many develop eye disorders related to diabetes known as diabetic retinopathy. These patients are at risk for developing diabetic retinopathy which involves the leakage of blood vessels in the retina. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, nearly one in four people with type one diabetes develops diabetic retinopathy, and approximately 14 percent of those with type two diabetes suffers from the condition.
People who have suffered from diabetes for a long period of time are the most likely to develop eye disorders, although family history, blood pressure levels, and blood sugar levels also play a contributing role.
The easiest ways to prevent diabetic retinopathy, or to at least ensure the symptoms are mild, is to have annual eye exams, manage blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible, and to also take steps to lower blood pressure to healthy levels.
Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy
Early diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy is key to managing the symptoms. That is why it is important to continue to visit an optometrist for a routine eye exam every year, regardless of whether blurred or disrupted vision is present. If an eye problem is detected in its earliest stages, progression may be slowed by taking steps to better manage diabetes and blood pressure.
Cataracts and Glaucoma
Although cataracts and glaucoma can affect anyone, the conditions are more common among diabetic individuals. In fact, according to the American Diabetes Association, diabetic individuals are 40 percent more likely to develop glaucoma and 60 percent more likely to develop cataracts than individuals who do not suffer from diabetes.
These diseases can progress and slowly cause partial or total vision loss. Treatment for cataracts is limited to surgical intervention only. Advanced glaucoma may also require surgery, but medicated eye drops are used to treat the earliest stages of the disease.
The Importance of Regular Eye Examinations
Regular professional eye examinations are important to overall health, regardless of whether a patient has been diagnosed with diabetes or is experiencing vision problems. Through a comprehensive eye exam, our optometrists are able to detect early diabetes which can prevent irreversible damage. Please contact our optometry office to schedule your annual diabetes exam.
Canadian Diabetes Association: Vision Health
American Diabetes Association: Eye Complications
U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources, National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse: Keep Your Eyes Healthy
The Mayo Clinic: Diabetic Retinopathy