Diabetes affects many areas of your body, including your eyes. Most eye diseases related to diabetes develop slowly over time, and may not exhibit noticeable symptoms. For this reason eye exams are extremely important, as they allow your eye doctor to catch problems before they progress too far
Diabetic patients experience a high risk of developing:
- Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
- Diabetic Retinopathy
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Over time, too much sugar in your blood can lead to the blockage of the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina, cutting off its blood supply. As a result, the eye attempts to grow new blood vessels but these new blood vessels don’t develop properly and often begin to bleed, allowing blood to leak over the retina and vitreous (the gel like substance in the centre of your eye.)
People with Type 1 diabetes are especially at risk for retinopathy. When Type 1 diabetes coexists with hypertension, a person may be four times as likely to develop proliferative retinopathy, the most damaging form of diabetic retinopathy. It occurs in about 60% of people with Type I diabetes and in about 5% of people with Type II diabetes within about two decades after diabetes is diagnosed.
When diagnosed early in the course of the disease, diabetic retinopathy can be effectively managed. Annual eye examinations are essential in diabetic care to prevent permanently impaired or lost vision.
If you have diabetes, there are a number of you ways you can reduce your risk of getting diabetic retinopathy. Reduce your risk by doing the following:
- Healthy eating and exercising regularly
- Monitoring your blood sugar level
- Keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol under control.
- Quitting smoking
- Paying attention to vision changes.
When diagnosed early diabetic retinopathy can be effectively managed, and a diagnosis does not necessarily mean you will completely lose your sight. Though there is no way to reverse any damage done there are a number of treatments that can prevent further damage to your eye health.
Annual eye examinations are essential in diabetic care to prevent permanently impaired or lost vision, contact your eye doctor right away if you experience sudden vision changes or your vision becomes blurry, spotty or hazy.