Focus on Diabetic Eye Disease
November is Diabetic Eye Disease Month, this condition consists of a group of eye problems that people with diabetes may develop as a complication of diabetes. Each of these eye diseases can cause severe vision loss or blindness, and often the disease continues to get worse without the affected person having any symptoms.
The three main eye diseases that can result from diabetes are:
- Diabetic Retinopathy – Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of diabetic eye disease, and results from damage to the blood vessels in the retina. The retina is a light sensitive tissue that lines the inner surface of the eye, and carries images of what people see from the eye to the brain through a large nerve called the optic nerve. Over time, affected persons lose vision and often in both eyes.
- Cataract – Cataract results from clouding of the lens of the eye, which is normally clear. Cataracts usually develop slowly and often take a long time to interfere with the vision. However, they tend to develop at an earlier age in people with diabetes. At first, using stronger lighting and eyeglasses may make it possible to see and read alright, but sometimes the vision becomes so impaired that cataract surgery is necessary.
- Glaucoma – Glaucoma results from increased fluid pressure inside the eye that causes optic nerve damage and loss of vision. A person with diabetes is almost twice as likely to get glaucoma as other adults. Glaucoma is more common in African Americans and Hispanics than in the general population. Therefore, they should have regular eye examinations, including screening for glaucoma.
More information on Diabetes and Diabetic Eye Disease can be found in our website Diabetes Section.
Increased Risk for Diabetic Retinopathy
All people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are at increased risk for diabetic retinopathy. Therefore, everyone with diabetes should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year.Also, the longer a person has had diabetes, the greater the risk of developing this condition. With proper treatment, it is often possible to prevent or greatly slow down progression of diabetic eye disease.
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