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Diabetes and Eyesight

Diabetes is a disease that affects the way we process food for energy and growth. With all forms of diabetes—type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes—the body has trouble converting sugar in the blood into energy, resulting in a host of potential health problems.

For Diabetic sufferers, an annual eye exam is usually required before going in for your annual medical check up. Your diabetic management team will usually want to have the results of your eye exam in front of them before they do your health examination, therefore it is normal for most diabetics to book their diabetic eye exam before their annual check-up. This usually means having an eye exam early in the new year- from January to March.

A diabetic eye exam is a series of tests that are designed to screen for eye diseases in general, and glaucoma and retinopathy in particular. It is very important to have your initial diabetic eye exam soon after you are diagnosed and you should make sure to have annual exams to monitor your condition and to ensure that any necessary treatment is started as soon as trouble is detected.

Early detection and treatment can help to save your vision when you suffer from diabetes.

 

Diabetes increases the likelihood that common diabetes-related vision problems or diseases might occur:

  • Diabetics are prone to developing cataracts (a clouding of the eye’s lens) at an earlier age.
  • People with diabetes are almost 50% more likely to develop glaucoma, an eye disorder that damages the optic nerve often marked by an increase of internal eye pressure.
  • Macular edema (and macular degeneration) are more common in diabetics due to malfunctioning blood vessels in the middle region of the retina responsible for central, sharp vision.
  • Most notably, diabetes can result in diabetic retinopathy; an eye disease that affects the blood vessels in the all-important retina. Nearly 45 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some stage of diabetic retinopathy.

That’s why there’s no separating diabetes and vision. If you have diabetes, then you should understand vision problems that increase in likelihood as a result of the disease.

Diabetes Statistics

Over 21 million people in the United States have diabetes, with an estimated additional 6 million people unaware they have a form of the disease. What’s more, an estimated 54 million Americans ages 40 to 74 have prediabetes, a condition that puts them at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. According to a recent American Optometric Association survey, diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults ages 20 to 74.