National Diabetic Eye Disease Month – Tips on How to Prevent Vision Loss
November is National Diabetes Month and Diabetic Eye Disease Month, and our eye doctors at The Eye Institute of Utah are proud to do our part in spreading awareness on how you can combat the dangers to eye health that diabetes can pose. There are about 29 million people in America who have diabetes, and approximately 86 million are at risk for the disease. Among individuals who suffer from diabetes, a large number of them also suffer from diabetic retinopathy, a debilitating vision condition that is the leading cause of blindness in working-age Americans.
Diabetic retinopathy is characterized by irregular blood sugar levels that cause damage to blood vessels in the eyes, ultimately causing them to leak blood or fluid. This can lead to excess blood vessel formation, the leakage of blood/fluid into the center of the eye, and progressive vision loss. There are not usually overt symptoms of diabetic retinopathy in its early stages, which makes it vital to have annual eye exams to identify signs of irregularities before irreversible vision impairment sets in.
Fortunately, there are treatment options available for diabetic retinopathy that can significantly slow its progression and potentially save your vision. With that in mind, it is imperative to have treatment as early as possible. Here are some tips that can help prevent diabetic retinopathy from doing maximum damage to your eyesight:
- Schedule at least one dilated eye exam each year.
- If you notice any changes in your vision, such as blurriness, “floaters,” missing spots, or other irregularities, please contact an eye doctor right away to have it checked out.
- Diabetics should be sure to diligently monitor and control blood-sugar levels. Those at high risk for diabetes should get regular check-ups with their physician to ensure that they have not developed the condition.
- Smoking should be avoided.
- Healthy diet and exercise routines should be followed as much as possible.
- Since diabetic retinopathy can progress at a very fast pace during pregnancy, pregnant women who have diabetes should have an eye exam in the first trimester.
While there is no cure for diabetic retinopathy, advances in treatment options have made it possible to decrease the risk of total vision loss and preserve eyesight. It is vitally important that all individuals have annual eye exams, and diabetic individuals in particular, to identify any signs of concern early and create a treatment plan that can save one’s vision.
If you have questions about diabetic eye disease, or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact us today.