According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 29 million Americans have diabetes, but one in four diabetics is unaware that he or she has the disease. As obesity rates increase and physical activity levels decrease, our country will continue to see a significant rise in new cases of diabetes. Chronic diseases like diabetes are associated with multiple complications such as hypoglycemia, hypertension, heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and eye problems.
How does diabetes lead to eye issues?
Diabetes affects almost every body system. Heart disease and blood vessel disease are the most common complications associated with uncontrolled diabetes. Vascular damage in the eyes can cause a condition called diabetic retinopathy, where weakened blood vessels leak blood and fluid into the retina. This can result in blurred vision and even blindness.
Diabetes and Glaucoma
Diabetes is also connected to glaucoma, a group of eye diseases that affect the optic nerve. Glaucoma is caused by increased eye pressure that can permanently affect vision. If left untreated, glaucoma will cause blindness. In fact, glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness in the world.
Diabetics are three times more likely to develop glaucoma than non-diabetics, especially if they are over 40. Neovascular glaucoma, a rare type of glaucoma is often associated with diabetes and diabetic retinopathy. When retinal blood vessels are damaged, the retina sometimes creates new, abnormal vessels. The iris (colored part of the eye) also grows new vessels and these can block the eye's drain, rasing eye pressure (Source: CDC).
Comprehensive Eye Exams
Preventing diabetes is one of the best ways to preserve your vision. Because diabetes is associated with a host of other complications, it is important to visit your eye care professional regularly. A comprehensive eye exam will help monitor your vision and make necessary modifications in your treatment. Sometimes, eye exams can give helpful insight into your overall health! So schedule a comprehensive eye exam for whole body wellness!