November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month, which helps raise awareness of diabetes and its negative effects on the eyes. Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults, though anyone with diabetic eye disease is at risk for vision loss and blindness. The retina specialists at Austin Retina Associates encourage anyone suffering from diabetes to seek immediate treatment for any vision problems to avoid vision loss or blindness.
The importance of regular vision exams
Anyone with diabetes should get regular vision screenings to help protect his or her eyesight. While a routine exam cannot diagnose diabetic eye disease, it can help identify issues while they are still treatable. If your doctor notices any unusual changes in your vision, he may recommend a comprehensive dilated eye exam with an ophthalmologist or optometrist.
Common types of diabetic eye disease
People with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts and glaucoma than those without diabetes, however, the primary vision problems caused by diabetes are:
- Diabetic retinopathy
Retinopathy is a general term that means the retina of the eye is damaged. Over time, diabetes can damage the blood vessels in the retina, causing them to leak blood and other fluids. The build-up of excess blood and fluid causes the retinal tissue to swell, which leads to clouded vision. While diabetic retinopathy cannot be cured, treatment options are available to help preserve vision and reduce the risk of vision loss.
- Diabetic macular edema
If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can lead to diabetic macular edema (DME). DME is an accumulation of fluid in the macula, the functional center of the retina that controls our most detailed vision abilities. Treatment options are available to help stop and sometimes reverse vision loss.
How to avoid diabetic retinopathy and DME
If you are diabetic, Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness month is the perfect time start actively protecting your vision. Here are a few easy steps to help you get started:
- Maintain good blood pressure and cholesterol through healthy diet and exercise.
- Receive a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year (or more often as directed by your doctor).
- If you are pregnant and have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, it is important to pay close attention to your blood glucose levels. Try eating a low sugar, low carb and high fiber diet.
For expert diabetic eye disease treatment in Austin, call Austin Retina Associates at 877-925-7649 to schedule an initial consultation.