November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month
Diabetes is a disease that can affect just about every part of the human body. Over time, diabetes can cause the blood vessels in the body to stop functioning. The vessels may become leaky or may stop functioning all together. When this occurs in the retina of the eye, it's called Diabetic Retinopathy.
The eye is the only part of the human body where the blood vessels can be directly examined. Which makes it very important that all diabetics have a complete dilated eye exam every year. What we see occurring inside the eye during an exam, we know is also occurring to other vessels within the body, and therefore how the diabetes is being managed. When there is leakage or damage to the blood vessels in the eye, there are likely similar findings in the brain, heart, lungs and kidneys. Early diagnosis and treatment of problems is very important to help preserve vision.
Diabetic eye disease, a group of eye problems that affects those with diabetes, includes diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma. The most common of these is diabetic retinopathy, which affects 5.3 million Americans age 18 and older. Diabetic retinopathy is a potentially blinding condition in which the blood vessels inside the retina become damaged from the high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes. This leads to fluids leaking into the retina and obstructing blood flow. Both may cause severe vision loss.
Early diagnosis of diabetes and, most importantly, maintaining control of blood sugar and hypertension through diet, exercise and medication, can help reduce your risk of developing eye disease associated with diabetes.
If you have diabetes and have been putting off an eye exam, use this month as your reason to have one.