November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month. With this goal in mind, we are using this opportunity to improve our patient’s awareness regarding diabetes and diabetic eye disease. Diabetic patients may be at risk of losing vision from diabetic eye disease if their diabetes is undiagnosed, or under poor control. According to Prevent Blindness America, diabetes has become a leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults. Researchers at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia have found that more than half of patients with the diabetes skip their annual eye exams, and that patients who smoke – and those with less severe diabetes and no eye problems – were most likely to neglect having these important checks.
Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to produce or use insulin effectively to control blood sugar (glucose) levels. Too much glucose in the blood for a long time can cause damage in many parts of the body including the heart, kidneys and blood vessels. It can also cause damage to the small blood vessels in the eye.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 90% of vision loss from diabetes can be prevented. Early detection is key. Patients with diabetes should get eye exams every year, even before they have any symptoms. More than 60% of diabetics are not getting their annual eye exams. People who have diabetes or poor blood sugar control are at risk for diabetic retinopathy. Risk also increases the longer someone has diabetes.
Diabetic eye disease is a term for several eye problems that can all result from diabetes and includes:
- Diabetic retinopathy,
- Diabetic macular edema,
- Cataract, and
Diabetic retinopathy is when blood vessels in the retina swell, leak or close off completely. Abnormal new blood vessels can also grow on the surface of the retina.
Diabetic macular edemahappens when fluid builds up in the retina and causes swelling and blurry vision. This can lead to permanent vision loss.
Cataracts: Excess blood sugar from diabetes can cause the lens in the eye to become cloudy and difficult to see through. This may require surgery to remove the cloudy lens inside the eye and replace it with a plastic intraocular lens. Maintaining good control of blood sugar helps prevent clouding of the lens and avoid surgery.
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve and lead to permanent loss of vision. Having diabetes doubles the chance of getting glaucoma.
To prevent damage to your eyes or vision from diabetes, maintain good control of your blood sugar. Follow your primary care physician’s recommendations for diet and exercise. If you have not had an eye exam, it is crucial to get one as soon as possible. Be sure to never skip the follow-up exams that your ophthalmologist recommends. Early detection is key.
Our practice recognizes November as the Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month and provides patients with comprehensive eye exams to diagnose your eye disease and conditions.
Contact Dr. Cooper’s office at (650) 259-0300 to get your eyes checked today!