Many people are aware that diabetes can affect the health of your feet. But did you know it can also affect the health of your eyes? If you have diabetes, make sure you get annual eye exams to prevent vision loss. Sadly, 60 percent of diabetics don’t get the exams recommended by their doctors, says the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Those who suffer from diabetes or poor blood sugar control, along with pregnant women and people with high blood pressure, are at a greater risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. In a nutshell, diabetes robs the body’s ability to produce or use insulin effectively in order to keep glucose levels under control. Yes, glucose is needed for energy in the cells, but too much can damage the heart, kidneys, blood vessels and eyes. Specifically, this can make the blood vessels in the retina leak, swell or close up. That is when diabetic retinopathy sets in.
People who have diabetes are also at a higher risk of developing glaucoma and cataracts. However, early detection and treatment can prevent or delay blindness stemming from diabetic retinopathy in 90% of people suffering from type one or type two diabetes, according to the CDC.
Many factors can influence whether you develop diabetic retinopathy, including:
- Blood sugar control
- Blood pressure levels
- Length of time with diabetes
- Family history
There are two types of retinopathy: non-proliferative and proliferative. The latter can destroy your vision but fortunately it is less common than the former, as described by the American Diabetes Association. You can do your part to keep retinopathy at bay, including keeping a close eye on your blood sugar levels and making sure they are within a normal range.
It’s important to note that your retina can suffer extensive damage even before you notice any changes in your vision. Your best bet is to have your eyes examined regularly by an eye care professional.
These exams can also put your doctor on alert for glaucoma (a buildup of pressure in the eye) and cataracts (a clouding of the eye’s clear lens). Your doctor may prescribe pressure-reducing medications to address glaucoma or even surgery, while cataracts could require glare-control lenses, lens removal or transplanted lenses.
Contact Simon Eye Associates
If you are a diabetic, we urge you to schedule yearly exams with Simon Eye Associates. Call us at 302-239-1933 or complete our convenient online form. Serving families in Wilmington, Newark, Middletown and nearby DE areas, we are your trusted eye care professionals who frequently work with diabetics of all ages.