Did you know that diabetes is the primary causal agent of vision loss in adults aged 20-74 years? If not, you are not alone. Since 2008, over 4 million individuals in North America living with diabetes were diagnosed with blindness caused by diabetes. Of this number, seventy thousand had severe diabetic retinopathy, which can result in total loss of vision.
While not every individual is at risk of diabetic retinopathy, it is important to understand the relationship between the disease and blindness.
To start, individuals diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at risk. The best way to find out if you have vision loss caused by diabetes is to have your eye care professional give you a complete eye test once a year. The longer the disease goes undiagnosed, the greater the risk of diabetes caused blindness. Speedy treatment is vital in terms of preventing further loss.
Pregnant women that have been found to have gestational diabetes have a better likelihood of contracting diabetic retinopathy. It is advisable to schedule a comprehensive dilated eye test after diagnosis as well.
You may ask yourself why all the worry? Wouldn't you notice of blindness?
Well the answer surprisingly is not necessarily. There are several types of diabetic retinopathy, and only those which are in the acute stages are obvious. Proliferative diabetes might have no signs. Macular edema is another diabetes related disease which results in serious vision loss. Both conditions can appear without any noticeable symptoms. This is a reason that early recognition is critical to halting any lasting damage.
A comprehensive analysis will discern signs of diabetic retinopathy. There are distinct phases to this exam which will expose the tell-tale clues, including damaged nerve tissue, swelling of the retina, the existence of fatty deposits on the retina, and leaky blood vessels. Want to know what are the steps in a complete vision exam?
The eye doctor will perform a visual acuity examination by means of an eye chart that is used to assess how well you see at varying distances. This is the same as the visual acuity exams given by your optometrist, should you need glasses.
In a dilated eye exam, the eye doctor puts drops in your eyes to amplify the size of your pupils. Not a favorite of the faint of heart, but it can stop deterioration in your vision later on. This practice makes it easier to examine more of the inside of your eyes to identify for specific symptoms that indicate the likelihood of diabetic retinopathy. The fleeting discomfort may save your eye sight.
Take care of your eye sight. Even a little laziness can cause irreparable loss. If you are diabetic, it is important to plan a vision exam with an optometrist every year.