The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 30.3 million Americans — nearly 10% of the country’s population — live with diabetes. Another 84.1 million Americans have prediabetes, though non-treatment of prediabetes typically leads to type 2 diabetes within 5 years. In addition to affecting blood sugar levels, diabetes can also have devastating effects on your ocular health.
Diabetes is a disease that interrupts the body’s ability to produce or use insulin to control blood sugar (glucose) levels. High blood sugar can cause damage in many parts of the body. Diabetes can damage the heart, kidneys, and blood vessels – including blood vessels in the eyes.
Diabetic eye disease is a blanket term for specific diabetes-related eye diseases. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes increase the risk of many conditions.
The eye diseases most commonly associated with diabetes are:
The key to preventing permanent vision loss is early detection. The CDC states that about 90% of vision loss from diabetes can be prevented. Regular comprehensive eye exams are key to catching eye disease related to diabetes. Comprehensive eye exams need to occur prior to the onset of vision loss and should be performed once a year. Studies have shown that up to 60% of diabetes patients do not get eye exams as often as is recommended, placing them at a much higher risk of permanent partial or full vision loss.
Those with diabetes should strictly follow the instructions of their eye care provider to effectively combat permanent vision loss.
Here are some key guidelines to follow:
Maintaining near-normal glucose levels and near-normal blood pressure lowers the risk of retinopathy developing and progressing. As a result, you should keep at the top of your mind the importance of maintaining good glycosylated hemoglobin levels, serum lipids, and blood pressure.
Dr. Prichard is a primary care optometrist with the Marietta Eye Clinic who also provides ocular surgery co-management. He earned his doctor of optometry degree from the University of Houston College of Optometry. His professional affiliations include the American Optometric Association and the Georgia Optometric Association. Read more about Dr. Prichard in his bio.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. It describes itself as a “global community of 32,000 medical doctors who protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public.” Its website is a great resource to learn more about how to care for your eyes.
The American Optometric Association (AOA) describes itself as the leading authority on quality care and an advocate for our nation’s health, representing more than 44,000 doctors of optometry (O.D.), optometric professionals, and optometry students.
Diabetic Eye Disease
New CDC report: More than 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes
Screening for Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic Retinopathy PPP – Updated 2017
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