Diabetes is a very serious disease that can cause problems such as blindness, heart disease, kidney failure, and amputations. But by taking good care of yourself through diet, exercise, and special medications, you can control diabetes. And there is more good news. Diabetic eye disease, a complication of diabetes, can be treated before vision loss occurs.
All people with diabetes need to get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year.
Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of eye problems that people with diabetes may face as a complication of this disease. All can cause severe vision loss or even blindness.
Diabetic eye disease includes:
- Diabetic retinopathy: Damage to the blood vessels in the retina.
- Cataract: Clouding of the lens of the eye.
- Glaucoma: Increase in fluid pressure inside the eye that leads to optic nerve damage and loss of vision.
This disease is a leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. In some people with diabetic retinopathy, retinal blood vessels may swell and leak fluid. In other people, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. These changes may result in vision loss or blindness.
Laser surgery and appropriate follow up care can reduce the risk of blindness by 90 percent. However, laser surgery often cannot restore vision that has already been lost, which is why finding diabetic retinopathy early is the best way to prevent vision loss.
The study found that the group that tried to keep their blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible also had much less kidney and nerve disease. This level of blood sugar control may not be best for everyone, including some older adults, children under 13, or people with heart disease. So ask your doctor if this program is right for you.
A person with diabetes is nearly twice as likely to get glaucoma as other adults. And, as with diabetic retinopathy, the longer you have had diabetes, the greater your risk of getting glaucoma. Glaucoma may be treated with medications, laser surgery, or conventional surgery.
Diabetes is a disease that can cause very serious health problems. If you have diabetes:
- Know your ABCs: A1C (blood glucose), blood pressure (BP), and cholesterol numbers.
- Take your medicines as prescribed by your doctor.
- Monitor your blood sugar daily.
- Reach and stay at a healthy weight.
- Get regular physical activity.
- Quit smoking.