Diabetes and Eye Disease: What You Need to Know

Being diagnosed with diabetes comes with a whole host of concerns, most of which are related to monitoring glucose levels and maintaining overall health, but diabetics also face peripheral complications. One of those potential complications is eye disease.

November is Diabetic Eye Disease month, our chance to take an extra look at the vision problems affecting those in our community who have diabetes. If you’re one of the 100 million or so Americans who are diabetic or prediabetic, use this opportunity to familiarize yourself with vision-related risk factors and learn what you can do to recognize the symptoms and preserve your sight.

Diabetes-Related Vision Problems
People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing glaucoma, an eye condition that causes gradual damage to your optic nerve and eventually compromises sight. There is also an increased risk of cataracts, a progressive clouding of the eye’s lens that is linked to vision loss.

About 5.4 percent of the population, or about 7.7 million Americans, are living with diabetic retinopathy. When the blood vessels in the retina are damaged, something that’s more likely to occur in diabetics, those affected may develop blurry vision, experience dark spots of fluctuating sight, lose the ability to see color, or lose their sight altogether.

Diagnosing and Treating Diabetic Vision Issues
Catching diabetic eye disease early can be difficult thanks to a lack of symptoms while conditions are in the beginning stages, making regular eye exams absolutely essential. It’s also important to control your glucose levels and closely monitor overall health.

Once diagnosed, glaucoma can be treated using eye drops, medication or surgery, depending on the severity. Some patients with cataracts find that special eyeglasses and bright lighting mitigate symptoms, but artificial lenses are the only true cataract treatment.

Treatment for diabetic retinopathy includes prescription medication to regulate blood sugar, steroids to reduce swelling, and several surgical options such as laser surgery targeting the blood vessels in the retina or a procedure called a vitrectomy.

For more information on how vision is affected by diabetic retinopathy or to schedule your routine checkup, contact Illinois Eye Center today at (309) 243-2400.

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