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Diabetes Awareness Month: Diabetic Eye Disease

Do you know why your eye exam can be a factor in diagnosing diabetes? The increased glucose levels that are the essence of the disease can cause damage to your eyes in a couple of ways.

The threat of damage to your eyes is increased when diabetes is not treated. Diabetic eye disease can appear in a few different ways.

One of the most common risks of diabetes on your eyes is damage to the blood vessels that lead to the retina. This is called diabetic retinopathy and is a leading cause of vision loss in adults.

Located at the back of the eye, the retina is essential for proper vision. Damage to the retina can result in irreversible blindness. While controlling diabetes can reduce the likelihood of developing diabetic retinopathy, it does not totally eliminate the risk and therefore it is essential to have an annual retinal exam.

Glucose levels that change periodically can also impact vision. Since glucose levels have an impact on the ability of your lens to maintain sharp focus, this can result in blurred vision that changes with glucose levels.

Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes clouded and can also develop after a longer period of living with diabetes. While many people develop cataracts with age, the likelihood of having the condition younger is increased in individuals with diabetes.

A person with diabetes is twice as likely to develop glaucoma, an increase in pressure in the optic nerve resulting in damage to the optic nerve and ultimately vision loss.

Having control of your diabetes is the best form of prevention for any of the eye and vision problems associated with the disease. As well as maintaining proper blood sugar levels through proper nutrition and/or insulin, it's important to exercise and refrain from smoking. Additionally, it is essential to have yearly eye exams with an eye doctor to identify any problems at the earliest stages. Even though it is often the case that vision loss that results from any of these conditions cannot be reversed, early diagnosis and treatment can often stop further vision loss.