November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month. Diabetes is a problem of blood sugar regulation that affects an estimated
Most people will start with pre-diabetes which is more of a silent process but can be detected using guidelines of blood sugar levels checked by your primary care physician. It is measured by higher than normal sugar levels but not so high that it is called diabetes at that point. It can be a forewarning of diabetes and a really good time to begin ways to prevent further progression. Food choices, weight management, and exercise are good ways to help control pre-diabetes.
Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. It affects blood vessels in the eye that can lead to lack of oxygen, strokes, and bleeding in the eye. Diabetic eye disease may cause blurry vision, sudden vision loss, partial vision loss, cobwebs or floaters. With enough damage, vision loss can be permanent and even complete irreversible blindness. Diabetes also significantly increases a person’s chance of having glaucoma (see the glaucoma post) and development of cataracts. It can also be associated with a higher incidence of dry eye.
Treatment begins with great diabetes control by diet, exercise, weight control, monitoring sugar levels, medicines as prescribed by the primary physician, no smoking, and control of any other medical problems like high blood pressure. Good diabetes control is the best way to reduce eye and vision problems. At a minimum, annual dilated eye exams are recommended. In some cases, more frequent eye exams may be needed to monitor the eyes and potential treatments initiated to treat diabetic eye disease and it’s associated problems, such as dryness and cataracts. Other problems such as bleeding may require laser treatments and/or evacuation of the blood.
Because pre-diabetes can be fairly silent as far as symptoms, people at risk for it should have an annual eye exam. Some risk factors for this include: you are over age 45 years, have diabetes is in your family, you are overweight, your diet has high sugars,calories, saturated fats, you have low physical activity, are non-caucasian, have high blood pressure, or you a woman who developed diabetes during pregnancy.
Be sure to get your eyes checked for diabetic eye disease.
Check out the American Diabetes Association www.diabetes.org and Prevent Blindness America www.preventblindness.org for more information.