What You should know….

Diabetic eye diseases refer to a group of eye diseases that occurs in a diabetic patient as a complication of the disease. All of these can lead to severe vision loss and even blindness. With early detection and timely treatment, its ill effects can be kept in check to great extend.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”

Diabetic eye diseases

Diabetic eye diseases include diabetic retinopathy, cataract and glaucoma.

Diabetic Retinopathy: When diabetes causes progressive damage to the eyes’ retina, the condition is termed as diabetic retinopathy. High blood sugar level causes permanent damage to the blood vessels and may lead to irreversible blindness. Those who have had diabetes for a long time and those whose diabetes is poorly controlled are more likely to develop the situation. Diabetic retinopathy is treated with vitrectomy surgery or laser treatment and appropriate follow up care can reduce the risk of blindness by 90%.

Cataract: Cataract refers to the clouding of natural lens of the eye which results in blurred and foggy vision. Cataract is the leading cause of blindness and vision impairments in our country. It accounts for about 80% of the total blind population. Cataract develops in an earlier age in people with diabetes and usually can be treated with surgery.

Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a condition in which the pressure of the eye rises to a point that the optic nerve becomes damaged. The vast majority of cases develop slowly and the patient is not aware of gradual loss of sight until vision is seriously impaired. A person with diabetes is nearly twice as likely to get glaucoma as other adults. The longer you have had diabetes, the greater your risk of getting glaucoma. It can be treated with medications, laser or other forms of surgery.

Preventing loss of vision

Finding and treating diabetic eye disease early- before it causes vision loss or blindness- is the best way to control diabetic eye diseases.

If you have diabetes, you should have a dilated eye examination at least once a year. Dilated pupil allows your eye care professional to detect any signs of eye disease. Changes in vision and eye problems should be reported to your regular doctor and eye specialist. If you are diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy you may be asked to have eye exam more often than once a year.

Remember: Better control of blood sugar levels can significantly lower the risk of vision loss.

When to schedule an eye exam

If you are 30 years or older, your first eye exam should be within a few months of diabetes diagnosis.
If you are diagnosed to have gestational diabetes you should have an exam within the first trimester
If you already have experienced a high risk condition such as kidney failure or amputation related to diabetes, schedule an eye exam immediately

What can I do to keep my eyes healthy?

A1C (blood glucose)
blood pressure
Take all medications as advised by your doctor
Quit smoking
Monitor blood sugar daily
Get regular physical activity
Get your eyes checked at least once a year

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