The most common cause of blindness in the U.S. is not what most would expect. Diabetes is a chronic disease in which there is too much sugar in the blood. High blood sugar can cause many problems, including blindness. The good news is that you suffer from diabetes, you can help prevent permanent eye damage. Here are some tips on what to look for to keep your eyes their healthiest.
Diabetic retinopathy is a disease that often occurs with long-term diabetes. High blood sugar over time causes the blood vessels in the retina to weaken. The retina is located at the back of the eye whose sole purpose is to transfer images (pictures) into nerve signals that are sent to the brain. People who suffer from both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a progressive disease that typically occurs over many years.
Diabetic retinopathy often remains unnoticed until it becomes severe and has caused damage to the eye. Once symptoms are noticed, they often include:
- Blurred vision that eventually leads to vision loss over time
- Shadows or blind spots within vision
- Night vision difficulty
- Floaters (spots floating in field of vision)
- Double vision
- Pain in eye(s)
The best way to prevent diabetic retinopathy is to keep blood sugars controlled and to lower both blood pressure and cholesterol levels. People with diabetes should also not smoke cigarettes. People with diabetes should have regular annual eye exams that include dilation. Dilating the eyes opens the pupil, which provides your eye care provider a window into the back of the eye. This allows them to monitor your retinal health.
If you or a loved one has diabetes and have not had a diabetic eye exam or are due for an exam, call the Raleigh Eye Center today at (919) 876-2427 to schedule an appointment.