Diabetes is a serious health condition that makes it difficult for your body to process sugar properly. As it progresses, it can cause problems in various body organs, including the eyes. In fact, diabetes is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in adults aged 20 to 74. Unfortunately, it can go undetected and untreated for long. Statistics provided by a CDC report on diabetes showed that 1 in every 10 Americans has the condition, and one in five people who have it don’t even know they do.
This lack of diabetes awareness heightens the risk of widespread eye problems like diabetic retinopathy, which is what happens when there is a blockage or leakage in the retina, leading to vision problems. Diabetes also puts you at an increased risk of glaucoma (which affects the optic nerve and causes vision loss) and cataracts (when the eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy).
With frequent eye exams, however, we can detect eye diseases early enough and avoid complications by getting adequate care. In fact, timely eye exams actually reduce diabetes-related eye problems by up to 95%. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam now.
How to Prevent Eye Damage from Diabetes
- Manage blood sugar levels. By eating right, exercising regularly, and correctly using the medication prescribed by doctors, you can keep your blood sugar at a healthy level, cutting down the risk of diabetes-related eye damage.
- Control your blood pressure. Hypertension can accelerate the progression of diabetic retinopathy, so maintaining healthy blood pressure levels will promote eye health.
- Quit smoking. Smoking poses serious health challenges, many of which are amplified if you have diabetes. It is easier to avoid and manage diabetic retinopathy if you quit smoking or don’t pick up the habit in the first place.
- Regular eye exams. Comprehensive eye exams are critical for the early detection and treatment of eye damage as doctors can detect early signs of retinal damage and medically control its progression.
- Follow medical recommendations. Based on their observation during the eye exam, your eye doctor may recommend specific tips to help protect your vision. It is important to follow their advice.
By sticking to these preventive measures, you can keep diabetes in check and maintain healthy eyesight.
Signs that Diabetes is Affecting Your Eyes
If you are diabetic, it’s important to stay vigilant in noticing any diabetes-related vision problems quickly. And if you do, promptly seek care from an eye doctor. Here are some signs to watch out for:
- Blurry or distorted vision
- Partial or total vision loss
- Floaters (tiny specks or spots that appear to float across the field of vision)
- Night vision problems
- Increased difficulty recognizing colors
Many times, these symptoms may not be noticeable until diabetic retinopathy has advanced considerably, making management more complicated. This is a further reason why regular eye exams are essential.
You don’t have to see the signs before managing the situation. You can get ahead by having eye exams that will help spot the issues, which means you can begin management before anything balloons into a serious vision problem or worse, complete vision loss.
How Long Does it Take to Go Blind from Diabetes?
How long it takes to go from a diabetic retinopathy diagnosis to blindness may depend on:
- The duration of diabetes
- Its severity
- How well or poorly a patient follows medical advice on diabetes management
- Other underlying health conditions (conditions like high blood pressure and kidney disease can accelerate the progression of diabetic retinopathy)
Although studies and stats show that diabetic patients are at a higher risk of vision loss than those without diabetes, having diabetes does not always lead to blindness.
The key takeaway is that early detection and treatment can significantly reduce the risk of vision loss from diabetes.
Get Protection From Diabetes with Regular Eye Exams
Early detection of diabetes-related eye conditions is critical to maintaining good vision and preventing permanent vision loss, so book your diabetic eye exam now.
Remember, you don't have to wait until you experience symptoms of diabetic retinopathy before getting your eyes checked.