November has been declared by Prevent Blindness as Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month to educate the public on the effects of diabetes on vision, risk factors and treatment options. When you have diabetes, you’re more likely to have eye problems than someone without it.
Did you know? Diabetes-related retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness in American adults and it affects over one in four of those living with diabetes, while 4% have severe cases of retinopathy.
According to Prevent Blindness, if you have diabetes, prevention of eye diseases related to diabetes is a priority. Diabetes-related eye disease can cause you to have trouble reading, seeing faces across the room, seeing at night, or even blindness.
There are two forms of diabetes-related eye disease:
- Diabetes-related retinopathy occurs when small blood vessels leak and bleed in the retina. The retina is layer of the eye that acts like the film in the camera of the eye to help you see.
- Diabetes-related macular edema is a swelling that can occur with retinopathy. It occurs when the small blood vessels in the center of the retina, called the macula, become leaky and cause the retina to swell. It can cause your vision to become blurry.
You are also more likely to have cataracts or glaucoma with diabetes:
- Diabetes and Cataracts: Cataracts are a clouding of your eye’s lens and may cause blurred vision. If you have mild cataracts, sunglasses and glare-control glasses may help. When cataracts begin to interfere with activities of daily living, then it may be time for cataract surgery. Cataract surgery is the removal of the cloudy lens and the placement of a clear artificial lens.
- Diabetes and Glaucoma: Having diabetes doubles your odds of glaucoma, a condition of increased pressure in your eye. This extra pressure can damage the retina and the optic nerve, the main eye nerve for sight. You likely won’t have symptoms early on. Some people slowly lose vision or see bright halos or colored rings around lights. Glaucoma may be treated with prescription eye drops to lower eye pressure. In some cases, you may need laser treatment or surgery.
If you have diabetes, you should see an eye doctor at least once a year for a dilated eye exam. In some cases, certain medications, lasers, and other procedures are available to treat diabetic retinopathy once it progresses. Here are some other ways to manage your health and vision with diabetes:
- Manage your blood sugar
- Manage your blood pressure
- Quit smoking
- Have an annual dilated eye exam with your ophthalmologist. Call us at 518-450-1080 to book your annual exam.
- Watch for warning signs such as:
- Blurry, cloudy, or double vision
- Flashing lights or rings around lights
- Blank, dark, or floating spots in your vision
- Pain, pressure, or constant redness in your eyes
- Trouble seeing signs or straight lines
- Trouble seeing out of the corner of your eye
- Any sudden change in your vision