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Are you aware that a diagnosis of diabetes increases your chances of serious eye damage? The NIH reports that in individuals between 20 and 74, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness. One of the risks of diabetes is retinal damage caused by increased pressure in the blood vessels of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy. This condition causes severe vision impairment and even blindness. Anyone with the disease is at risk and it has affected over 3.7 million people in America in the past 10 years. This number is expected to reach 11 million cases by 2030.

Early on, diabetic retinopathy is often asymptomatic. When the pressure in the retinal blood vessels increases they begin to leak causing retinal damage. This leads to vision loss and when not treated, blindness.

Because symptoms are often not noticed until significant damage is done it is imperative to see your eye doctor each year to perform a comprehensive eye exam if you have diabetes. If you have diabetes and you notice any sort of vision problems, such as fluctuations in eyesight, floaters, double vision, shadows or spots or any pain in your eye make sure to see an optometrist. Cataracts and glaucoma are also more common in individuals with diabetes than in the average population.

With early detection and treatment, we can reduce vision loss. In addition to making sure to schedule a regular eye exam annually if you are diabetic, controlling your blood sugar levels is necessary to your eye health. Make sure to keep your glucose levels at normal limits and keep an eye on your blood pressure. Include exercise and proper nutrition in your lifestyle.

If you or a loved one is diabetic, be sure you know the risks of diabetic retinopathy and other eye risks and consult with your eye doctor if you have any questions. It could mean the difference between a life of sight and one of darkness.

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