diabetic retinopathy eye concept

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. The purpose of this annual event is to spread awareness and educate the public about type 1 diabetes. Diabetes, whether it is type 1 or type 2, raises the risk for many serious health conditions. It can also increase your risk of blindness from various eye conditions.

Eye Complications Associated with Diabetes

Having diabetes affects your eye health and increases your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. High blood sugar levels can damage the small blood vessels in your retinas. If not found and treated early, this damage can lead to blindness. Diabetes can also cause variations of retinopathy, including:

  • Maculopathy, which is swelling in the macula that, if caught early, can often be reversed.
  • Background retinopathy, where the blood vessels have some damage, but the patient’s vision has not been affected yet, but the condition can worsen if the patient doesn’t manage their diabetes well.
  • Proliferative retinopathy, where existing blood vessels don’t get enough oxygen, so new ones grow that are extremely fragile and can bleed, form clots, or cause scarring that could cause the retina to detach.

People who have diabetes are at a higher risk for developing common eye conditions like cataracts and glaucoma. These eye conditions can rob you of your sight if not caught early in an eye exam.

Be Aware of the Signs

If you have diabetes, you should tell your eye doctor. You should have your eyes examined annually or as often as your doctor recommends. This will help catch problems early before irreversible damage is done. However, if you notice sudden changes in your vision, like blurriness, black spots/holes in your vision, or flashes of light, you should contact your doctor immediately. Doing so could prevent vision loss.

Whether you have diabetes or not, regular eye exams can help keep track of your eye health. Call Valley Eyecare Center at (602) 955-2700 or go online to schedule your next eye exam or for any questions regarding changes in your vision.