November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month, and Dr. William Martin, medical director and chief surgeon of Opti-Vue and chief of ophthalmology at The University of Toledo Medical College stresses how important it is for diabetics to schedule a complete dilated eye examination with their eye doctor at least once a year.
Approximately 29 million Americans 20 or older have diabetes, but almost one-third don’t know they have the disease and are at risk for vision loss and other health problems. Early symptoms are often unnoticed, therefore vision may not be affected until the disease is severe and less easily treated.
Dr. Martin advised that those who are diagnosed with diabetes schedule a complete eye examination with their eye doctor. Diabetes can affect vision by causing cataracts and glaucoma. If you have diabetes, you may develop cataracts at a younger age and your chances of developing glaucoma are doubled.
The most common eye disease associated with diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, a potentially blinding condition in which the blood vessels inside the retina become damaged from the high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes, This leads to fluids leaking into the retina and obstructing blood flow. Both may cause severe vision loss.
Early diagnosis of diabetes and, most importantly, maintaining strict control of blood sugar and hypertension through diet, exercise and medication, can help reduce your risk of developing eye disease associated with diabetes.