November is Diabetic Eye Disease Month. According to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 23.1 million Americans were diagnosed with diabetes in 2015, and around 7.2 million people remain undiagnosed.
While routine bloodwork can provide useful insights, many may not realize that an optometrist can detect diabetes early at an annual eye exam.
According to Prevent Blindness, “all people with diabetes are at risk of developing eye diseases that can permanently damage their vision and even lead to blindness. In fact, individuals with untreated diabetes are 25 times more likely to lose their sight than the general population.”
The group of eye conditions that affects people with diabetes is referred to as diabetic eye disease. It can include any of the following conditions:
1.Diabetic retinopathy: Caused by damage to the small blood vessels of the retina (the seeing layer of the eye). Prevent Blindness says this is a leading cause of blindness in American adults. Diabetic retinopathy is classified into two types: non-proliferative and proliferative. Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy is the early stage of the disease when the symptoms are mild or nonexistent. When the condition becomes more advanced, it’s considered proliferative diabetic retinopathy.
2.Diabetic macular edema: Caused by leaking blood vessels (a complication of diabetes), which leads to fluid accumulation in the center of the retina, or the macula. Prevent Blindness says this can cause central vision to become blurry.
Additional eye conditions that are common in diabetic patients and can be diagnosed by an optometrist include:
3.Cataracts: Caused by clouding in the lens of the eye, therefore blocking or changing the passage of light. Cataracts sometimes lead to blurry vision.
4.Glaucoma: Caused by increased fluid pressure in the eye, leading to optic nerve damage and possible loss of peripheral vision.
(See first-hand how cataracts and glaucoma can impact your vision with this online tool.)
Eye exams are critical. They can reveal hidden signs of disease and enable timely treatment. MyEyeDr. encourages individuals with an increased risk or diagnosis of diabetes to schedule an annual eye exam.
MyEyeDr. is a network of optometry practices that offer comprehensive eye care services, a selection of designer and value prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses, and standard and specialty prescription contact lenses. By welcoming all vision insurance plans and providers, MyEyeDr. makes vision health attainable for everyone.
For more information, visit www.myeyedr.com.