November is National Diabetes Month and is a good time to bring awareness to the risk of developing diabetic eye disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number of Americans developing Type 2 diabetes continues to increase at an alarming rate, with an estimate of 34.2 million people having it in 2020. This means one in 10 people have diabetes and are at increased risk of vision loss from the damage it can do to their eyes. If you have diabetes, whether Type 1 or Type 2, or are at a risk for developing it, here is what you need to know to protect your vision.
Common Diabetic Eye Diseases
One of the most concerning diabetic eye diseases is diabetic retinopathy. Damage is done to the eye’s small capillaries and blood vessels in the retina, which triggers this condition. When not detected and treated early, the damage is permanent and results in vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy is not the only eye disease that patients with diabetes are at increased risk of. Other conditions include:
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Proliferative retinopathy
- Background retinopathy
- Blurry vision
Keep Your Diabetes Under Control
The first step to helping keep your eyes safe from diabetic eye disease is taking charge of your diabetes and keeping your sugar and A1C levels in a healthy range. It is important to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control. Additionally, it is vital that your follow your medication regimen, eat healthy and stay physically active. This can help reduce your risk or delay the progression of eye disease.
Early Detection is Key
The earlier diabetic eye disease can be detected, the better. It is crucial that you have at least one comprehensive dilated eye exam once a year or as often as recommended by your eye doctor. Make sure to discuss your health status with your eye professional to make them aware of your increased risk for eye disease.
Regular eye exams can help detect changes in your eyes that you might not realize are happening until vision loss begins. Notify your eye doctor immediately about any changes in your vision in between your eye exams, including:
- Blurry vision
- New eye floaters
- Eye infections
- Dark spots
- Flashes of light
Maintaining your eye health is essential for your overall health and independence. Schedule your next eye exam at Valley Eyecare Center by calling (602) 955-2700 or requesting an appointment online today.