November Is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder involving high levels of blood sugar that, if left unmanaged, can lead to a slew of serious health issues, including eye damage. According to the CDC, just over 1 in 10 Americans have some form of diabetes and approximately 1 in 3 adults in the US have prediabetes. However, in spite of the disease’s prevalence, many Americans lack fundamental knowledge about diabetic eye diseases.
November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month, which serves as an opportunity for health professionals to raise awareness about the serious eye conditions associated with diabetes and educate the public on how they can improve their eye health and preserve their vision.
Common Diabetic Eye Diseases
Diabetes can negatively impact your vision in a variety of ways. The most common eye diseases among diabetics are:
- Diabetic retinopathy, which is the leading cause of blindness in diabetics. This condition occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the retinal blood vessels, cutting the retina off from its blood supply. This can trigger the growth of abnormal blood vessels, which break easily and bleed inside the eye, leading to a sudden and significant decrease in vision.
- Diabetic macular edema, a condition in which fluid builds up in the macula, causing significant issues with the eye’s central vision.
- Glaucoma, which is an umbrella term for a group of eye conditions involving eye pressure and damage to the optic nerve.
- Cataracts, a condition in which the lens of the eye becomes cloudy from a layer of built-up proteins, causing blurry vision, nearsightedness, and other vision issues.
In addition to diabetes on its own, there are several risk factors that can increase your chance of developing a diabetic eye disease. These include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
When to See a Doctor
Whether you have type 1, type 2, or even gestational diabetes, seeing an ophthalmologist or retina specialist for diabetic eye exams should be part of your regular healthcare routine. This is especially true if you have any of the above risk factors. It’s important to note that, in the early stages, many diabetic eye diseases present without any symptoms. However, as the disease progresses, you may experience some symptoms, at which point you should make an appointment to see a doctor.
These symptoms include:
- Blurry or distorted vision
- Floaters and flashes of light in your vision
- Dark spots in your vision
Diabetic Eye Disease Prevention
Your best bet for preserving your vision and fending off diabetes-related eye problems is by taking preventive measures and making adjustments to your lifestyle.
- Managing blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol
- Achieving or maintaining a healthy BMI
- Eating a healthy diet
- Being active
- Seeing an eye specialist every six months to a year for a diabetic eye exam
To learn more about diabetes, eye health, eye disease prevention, and preserving your vision, contact Austin Retina today.