The Importance of Diabetic Eye Care
With over 29 million Americans—more than 9 percent of the general population—being diabetic, diabetes is one of the most common diseases in the US. As concerning as that number is, there are over 80 million more Americans who are considered to be “prediabetic” (which means they have elevated blood sugar levels, just not elevated enough to be considered diabetes). Perhaps even worse than either of those statistics is the fact one in four people with diabetes don’t even know it – which means they aren’t monitoring their blood sugar!
The disease causes wide-ranging problems throughout the body. It leads to increased risk for kidney disease, nerve damage, heart attacks, strokes, and hypertension. Of course, it also causes heightened risk of eye diseases and even blindness.
If you care about your eyes and ability to see, then you need to care about diabetic eye care. High blood sugar causes so many problems throughout the body, including swelling in the lens of the eye. This changes your ability to see and can cause blurred vision – a symptom of serious eye problems. As such, it is imperative you check your blood sugar levels regularly. Monitoring and regulating blood sugar is a key part of effective diabetic eye care. If you just start to regulate your blood sugar, it can take as much as three months before your vision will return to normal, so it’s best that you start doing this as soon as possible!
Diabetic eye care is important for reducing your risk of three common diseases often associated with untreated diabetes:
- Diabetic retinopathy—This is the most common eye disease caused by diabetes, and a leading cause of blindness. The disease is characterized by blood vessels swelling and leaking in the retina (which is attributed to the diabetes). In some cases, new blood vessels start to grow on the surface of the retina.
- Glaucoma—Excessive intraocular pressure (pressure on the inside of the eye) causes glaucoma. Over time, increased pressure on the optic nerve can lead to permanent vision loss. Diabetes leads to an uncommon form of glaucoma known as neovascular glaucoma. In this disease, the normal flow of aqueous (a watery solution) is blocked, which increases intraocular pressure.
- Cataracts— Virtually anyone can develop a cataract, but diabetics tend to get them at an earlier age. This clouding of the lens of the eye makes it unable to focus. Those who have diabetes experience a quicker lens deterioration than do nondiabetic individuals.
If you have diabetes, you simply must take measures to manage the condition. Failure to do so can lead to a host of medical issues, including these respective eye diseases. The good news is that you aren’t alone when you are diabetic – our team is here to help you with your eye care needs!
For more information on diabetic eye care, or to request an appointment with our Zeeland, MI office, give us a call today at (616) 772-2020 and one of our team members will be glad to assist you!