Nearly 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes and millions more living with the condition don’t even know they have it. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults.
Why does diabetes affect vision? Having high blood sugar can cause the retina and/or lens of the eye to swell and change shape, affecting your ability to see. In fact, blurry vision is often one of the first warning signs of diabetes. Diabetes contributes to a number of other, more serious eye problems than blurry vision.
Retinopathy–Because of high blood sugar, blood vessels that supply the retina may be damaged and restricted. Diabetic retinopathy accounts for 12 percent of all new cases of blindness in the U.S.
Glaucoma–Glaucoma occurs when there is increased pressure in the eye, causing damage to the optic nerve and resulting in vision loss. People with diabetes are 40 percent more likely to suffer from glaucoma than those without the disease.
Cataracts–Cataracts form when the lens of the eye becomes clouded. Diabetics are 60 percent more likely to get them. In those with diabetes there is also a higher risk of cataracts developing earlier and progressing faster.
Keeping your eye doctor involved: Keeping your eye doctor involved is an important step to preventing diabetic eye disease. If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or if there are changes in your condition, let them know. Keep them informed of your medications and your doctor’s recommended treatment plan. Very often with diabetic retinopathy, the retina can be badly scarred before any changes in vision are noticed. This is why it is so important to get your eyes checked on a regular basis as recommended by an eye care professional. In many cases, catching and treating diabetic eye diseases early can prevent vision loss and blindness.
Even if you attend your regular checkups, see your eye doctor immediately if you experience:
- Black spots in your vision
- Flashes of light
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Pain in your eyes
- Any sudden change in vision
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