With November being National Diabetes Awareness Month we thought it was important to discuss the impact of Diabetes on eyes and eyesight.
Diabetic eye disease comprises of a group of eye conditions that affect people with the disease. Specifically this includes diabetic retinopathy, the most common cause of vision loss among diabetics, which has the potential to lead to severe vision loss and even blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy affects blood vessels in the light-sensitive tissue called the retina that lines the back of the eye. Chronically high blood sugar from diabetes is associated with damage to the tiny blood vessels in the retina, leading to diabetic retinopathy. This is because the blood vessels in the retina begin to leak fluid or blood, which will distort vision. This can also lead to scarring and cell loss of the retina.
People with all types of diabetes (type 1 and type 2) are at risk for diabetic retinopathy. This risk increases the longer a person has diabetes. It is very common in diabetes but unfortunately only about half are aware of it, as the early stages usually have no symptoms.
The disease often progresses unnoticed until it affects vision. Bleeding from abnormal retinal blood vessels can cause the appearance of “floating” spots. These spots sometimes clear naturally. But, without prompt treatment, bleeding often recurs, increasing the risk of permanent vision loss.
Vision lost to diabetic retinopathy is sometimes irreversible. However, early detection and treatment can reduce the risk of blindness by 95 percent.
Since diabetic retinopathy often lacks early symptoms, people with diabetes should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. People with diabetic retinopathy may need eye exams more frequently. Women with diabetes who become pregnant should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam as soon as possible.
As you can see Diabetes affects parts of the body you probably wouldn’t expect. Hopefully though, with continued research in the near future we will be able to find a cure!