Diabetes brings a variety of health complications. Aside from affecting the heart, the nerves, and the kidneys, diabetes also affects the eyes. Having diabetes causes blood sugar levels to soar, which damages the eyes over time.
Diabetic eye disease is the umbrella term for eye diseases that affect people with diabetes, and these specific diseases are diabetic retinopathy, cataract, and glaucoma.
Did you know that people with diabetes have a 78% chance to have diabetic retinopathy, 40% chances to have glaucoma, 60% chance to have cataracts? These numbers are overwhelming considering that vision is just one aspect of health that diabetics need to be cautious of.
Hence, the purpose of Diabetic Eye Disease month in shedding light on the plights faced by diabetics. This is addressed by providing relevant information on how to prevent, diagnose, and treat diabetic eye disease.
Although having diabetes is already a risk factor, developing diabetic eye diseases has no warning signs.
A person with diabetes is always at risk for vision loss, apart from other medical conditions. Diabetic eye disease is also often unnoticed at first, and it only becomes apparent once the disease has become severe.
Of diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy is the most common, affecting an estimate of five million Americans with diabetes aged 18 years old and above.
Diabetic retinopathy is potentially blinding due to the damaged blood vessels in the retina caused by high sugar levels. Fluids leak into the retina and disrupt blood flow. Diabetic macular edema (DME) is a consequence of diabetic retinopathy where there is swelling in an area of the retina.
Cataracts are the clouding of the eye’s lens. It tends to develop early among diabetics. While commonly associated with diabetes, people without diabetes can also develop cataracts.
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that affects the eye’s optic nerves. Diabetics and people with hypertension are at a double risk for glaucoma.
Diabetic Eye Disease often has no symptoms in its early stages, and the only way to detect it is through a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Other things that people with diabetes can do to delay or slow down the progression of diabetic eye disease include:
T — Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor.
R — Reach and maintain a healthy weight.
A — Add more physical activity to your daily routine.
C — Control your ABCs—A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
K — Kick the smoking habit.