Posted by: Georgia Eye Partners in News and Updates

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Diabetes affects more than 25 million Americans, but according to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 7 million people don’t even know they are diabetic. The metabolic disease occurs when the body is unable to produce enough insulin, leading to abnormal blood sugar levels and various medical complications.

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness for adults age 20 to 74. High blood pressure that accompanies the disease causes the lens of the eye to swell, damaging or eliminating vision. Disturbingly, many diabetics neglect regular eye exams that could help prevent and treat the three major vision problems associated with the disorder.

Cataracts. Diabetics are 60 percent more likely to develop cataracts. The disorder occurs when the eyes are unable to absorb light, clouding the vision. Fortunately, cataract surgery is one of the safest, most effective, and most common procedures our doctors perform.

Glaucoma. An estimated four million Americans have glaucoma, although the majority of people experience no symptoms initially. By the time some people notice a change in vision, the damage from glaucoma may be permanent. Regularly visiting an experienced ophthalmologist for an eye exam is necessary to prevent and treat glaucoma.

Diabetic retinopathy. This disorder is a microvascular complication that occurs when small blood vessels are damaged. Diabetic retinopathy is currently the leading cause of irreversible blindness in developed countries, but it doesn’t have to be. Maintaining proper blood pressure and sugar levels will greatly reduce your risk.

If you have diabetes and experience any of these symptoms, contact your eye care professional immediately:

  • Light flashes
  • Black spots or “holes” in vision
  • Blurred vision

Doctors maintain the best way to reduce the chance of vision damage or blindness for diabetics is with regular dilated eye exams, especially for patients considering pregnancy or with a history of family diabetes. Actively checking and maintaining blood sugar and pressure levels will also promote better eye health.

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