Even many people with the disease are not informed that diabetes can lead to vision loss. The NIH reports that in individuals between 20 and 74, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness. One of the risks of diabetes is retinal damage caused by excessive 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 problems occur when the retinal blood vessels begin to leak fluid, oil and small amounts of blood into the retina. When it is not treated, blood vessels could become blocked or additional unwanted vessels may form on the retina leading to permanent vision loss.
If you are diabetic and you notice any sort of vision problems, such as fluctuations in eyesight, floaters, double vision, shadows or spots or any pain in your eye make an appointment with your eye doctor. Diabetics are also at increased risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma due to the strain it causes on the eyes.
All diabetic eye diseases are more damaging when glucose levels are uncontrolled. Controlling your diabetes through diet, exercise and staying healthy and yearly eye exams is the best combination for preserving your vision.
If you or a loved one is diabetic, be sure you are informed about the risks of diabetic retinopathy and other eye risks and speak to your optometrist to discuss questions or concerns. In this case, knowledge really is the key to vision.