According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes affects nearly 26 million Americans. Diabetic retinopathy, one of the leading causes of blindness in diabetics, occurs in about 80 percent of diabetics. Representatives report that only about half of all people with diabetes get annual dilated eye exams, a number that should be increased to 100 percent if diabetics wish to prevent severe vision loss. Today we will pinpoint when diabetics need to see a specialist to maintain healthy vision.
How Diabetes Affects Eyesight
The retina in the back of the eye becomes abnormal or weak when blood sugar levels fluctuate or become higher than normal. Leakage and bleeding makes vision blurry and can permanently impair sight. The form of this damage is named diabetic retinopathy, which affects up to 45 percent of those with diabetes. Other conditions include cataracts (clouding of the eyes) and glaucoma (increase in fluid pressure leading to nerve damage and vision loss).
Since most people neglect vision problems until the condition is fully erupted, specialists suggest to notify their doctor upon notice that their vision in one or both eyes has changed. Other diabetic retinopathy symptoms include:
Spots and dark strings floating
Dark and empty areas in vision
Difficulty with color perception
Who is Most At Risk?
In short, anyone with diabetes is at risk, but some more than others ought to pay a little more attention to their symptoms. A person with diabetes for less than five years has a 15 percent chance of retinopathy. Shockingly, the number escalates to 80 percent if someone has had diabetes for 15 years or longer.
What Can Be Done to Prevent Disease?
The National Eye Health Education Program recommends diabetics to have a dilated eye exam to ensure that their vision is intact. This is the only form of protection against vision loss, since doctors can detect and diagnose early signs of diabetic eye disease. In addition to eye exams, the NEHEP reports that staying healthy, overall includes:
Taking prescribed medications
Maintain a healthy weight
Add physical daily activities
Contain blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels
Taking these steps and other lifestyle changes can help maintain healthy vision. If you have diabetes and feel that your vision has changed or notice that your vision is fading, talk to your doctor. If your eyes have suffered the effects of diabetic eye disease, laser vision correction may be an option for you. Dr. Caster and his staff will determine if your vision is manageable to withstand correction. For now, diabetics should always pay attention to their symptoms, live a healthier lifestyle and have regular dilated eye exams to catch symptoms of conditions early on.