This Diabetes Awareness Month, Learn How to Preserve Your Vision

November 12th, 2019
Senior woman with glucometer checking blood sugar level at home. Diabetes, health care concept

November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month, and in honor, we’re examining how patients can avoid common eye conditions associated with diabetes. Diabetes is the main cause of new cases of blindness in adults, and the number of people with diabetic retinopathy — the most common diabetic eye disease — is growing rapidly. In fact, a 63% increase in the condition is projected by 2050. 

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your chances of developing diabetic eye disease. Read on to discover what you can do to preserve your vision. 

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most debilitating — and one of the most common — diabetes complications. Understanding how it affects your eyes can help you preserve your vision. 

Diabetic retinopathy takes several forms, but at its core it is caused by high blood sugar damaging the blood vessels in the eyes. Specifically, high blood sugar degrades the blood vessels that provide nourishment to the retina (the area of the eye that processes images and sends them to the brain as electrical impulses). 

The damaged blood vessels then start leaking fluid, cholesterol, and blood into the retina. After some time, the retina can no longer absorb the oxygen that it needs to function. The retina attempts to address this problem by creating new blood vessels. However, these blood vessels are abnormal and can easily rupture, filling the retina or the vitreous (the transparent gel that fills the interior of the eye) with blood. This can lead to the development of scar tissue that may tug at the retina, potentially to the point of detachment. 

Diabetic Macular Edema

Diabetic macular edema (DME) is another serious eye disease that can occur as a result of diabetic retinopathy. It is one of the main reasons for vision loss in people with diabetes. 

DME occurs when the retinal blood vessels start leaking into the macula, which is the part of the eye that is responsible for detailed central vision. This leakage leads to the macula swelling and thickening, causing a distortion of your central vision. While this swelling doesn’t always result in blindness, it can seriously harm your central vision.  

How To Preserve Your Vision

The main way to preserve your vision is by taking the same actions that are used to prevent diabetes. These include following a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and not smoking. 

When it comes to taking care of your eye health, the best thing you can do is to seek out an eyecare professional as soon as you are diagnosed with diabetes. Further, make sure that you undergo comprehensive eye exams at least once a year. This is critical because diabetic retinopathy does not typically have any visible warning signs. It can only be detected through a comprehensive eye exam that looks for early signs of the disease within the eye. These include macular swelling, any changes to the retinal blood vessels, leaking blood vessels, and damaged nerve tissues. If you take these precautions, you can limit the extent of the damage that diabetes can have on your eyes.

Treating Diabetic Eye Disease

Treatments for diabetic retinopathy are available and they can effectively restore your eyesight depending on your level of retinopathy. Treatments include injection of medications into your eyes or retina surgery (including laser retina surgery). 

If you have diabetes, or are concerned about your eye health, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with the eye care specialists at Kleiman Evangelista. We can help you preserve your vision and prevent complications associated with diabetes.

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