November is Diabetic Eye Disease Month. It’s an opportunity for those with diabetes, or those whose loved ones have been diagnosed with the disease, to learn more about the challenges diabetics face when it comes to vision care. This time also represents a call for increased awareness and research to help fight this condition that affects 37.3 million Americans – or about 1 in 10.

What is Diabetic Eye Disease?

This term refers to a group of eye issues that crop up as a result of diabetes. These issues include:

  • Glaucoma is a cluster of diseases that damage your optic nerve and can lead to irreversible vision loss.
  • Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens that blocks light from entering the eye.
  • Diabetic retinopathy happens when blood vessels in the retina swell up, close off, or leak. This can cause new, abnormal blood vessels to form on the surface of the retina.
  • Diabetic macular edema is a damaging build-up of fluid in the retina.

Diabetes can present long-term vision issues including decreased vision or even blindness. You can prevent these issues the same way you mitigate the other risks of the disease – by taking steps to control your diabetes.

Other Vision Difficulties Presented by Diabetes

Even without diabetic eye disease, you can still have vision difficulties related to diabetes. Rapid changes in your blood sugar levels can alter the shape of your eye’s lens, which can cause blurry vision. It is very important to stabilize your blood sugar before you see your eye care professional. Doing so will ensure you receive the correct glasses or contacts prescription.

Because diabetes can damage the optic nerve, it can also cause double vision. It may also lead to other eye diseases. These include branch retinal vein occlusion and central retinal vein occlusion.

What You Can Do to Protect Your Vision

The key to preventing diabetic eye disease and other issues related to diabetes is to control your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Work with your doctor to find the treatments that work best for you. Diet, exercise, and smoking cessation play important roles as well.

It is also important to see an eye care professional frequently to increase your chances of detecting issues early. Contact Valley Eyecare Center at (602) 955-2700 for an appointment. We want to help you see clearly for many years to come!