When you include all types of Diabetes, 8.3% of the population of the United States is affected. When you add in the classification of Pre-Diabetes, then the percentage goes up to 25% of the population of the United States.
Diabetes can affect many parts of the eye. The three most common that we will talk about are Retinopathy, Glaucoma and Cataract.
Diabetic Retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels in the back of the eye. Leakage from the blood vessels, as well as abnormal new blood vessel growth, results in loss of vision and/or blindness. The longer one has Diabetes, the more likely he/she will get Diabetic Retinopathy, and nearly half of the people with Diabetes will develop some degree of Diabetic Retinopathy during their lifetime. In the early stages of the disease, there are frequently no symptoms and the vision may not change until the disease becomes very severe. Because there is no pain and the vision may not change until very late in the disease, it is recommended that people with Diabetes get their eyes checked at least once a year by an Ophthalmologist.
Diabetic Retinopathy can be diagnosed by a comprehensive and thorough eye examination. If one has Retinopathy, it can be treated in many ways, including injections and laser.
Diabetic Retinopathy cannot be completely prevented, but one who controls their blood sugars levels extremely well and keeps their lipids under control and their blood pressure under control will help decrease the likelihood of Retinopathy.
Glaucoma is a disease that can silently affect the vision of one’s eyes. Again, it is a silent killer of the eyesight and people frequently do not know they have Glaucoma until very late in its progression. Diabetics have approximately twice the likelihood of getting Glaucoma, compared with other adults. The longer you have had Diabetes, the greater the chance of developing Glaucoma. Glaucoma is treatable with medications, laser and other forms of surgery, but it must be diagnosed. Once again, we recommend at least yearly examinations.
Cataract is a clouding of the human lens. Everyone will eventually get cataracts and these can be treated very well with surgery, but those who have Diabetes have at least twice the likelihood of getting a cataract earlier than the average adult. Once again, yearly examinations by an Ophthalmologist are recommended.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office.