Raising Awareness of Diabetic Eye Disease

In order to raise awareness of factors affecting eye health, the American Academy of Ophthalmology highlights a different issue every month. November is observed as Diabetic Eye Disease Month. To do his part, Dr. Eric Donnenfeld wants to help shine a light on the eye-related complications faced by people with diabetes.

How Does Diabetes Affect Eye Health?

People with diabetes have trouble controlling the amount of sugar in their blood. High amounts of sugar in the blood can damage the tiny blood vessels of the eye, particularly the blood vessels that nourish the retina. This can lead to a disease known as diabetic retinopathy. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they are to develop diabetic retinopathy.

In cases of diabetic retinopathy, the retina’s blood vessels leak fluid and blood; in the advanced stages of the disease, the retina grows new blood vessels that leak blood. This progressively damages the retina and can cause permanent vision loss and in rare cases, blindness.

One of the consequences of diabetic retinopathy is diabetic macular edema, which happens when fluid builds up in the central region of the retina called the macula. This affects central vision that is critical to recognizing faces, driving and reading. About half of the people that have diabetic retinopathy are diagnosed with diabetic macular edema.

In addition to diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema, people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing other serious eye diseases. Diabetics are two to five times more likely to develop cataracts and twice as likely to develop glaucoma.

Lowering the Risk of Diabetic Eye Disease

The key to lowering the risk of diabetic eye disease is to keep diabetes under control as best possible. This involves being diligent about the following:

  • taking medications as prescribed
  • regularly seeing your doctor
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • not smoking
  • eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly
  • controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels

People with diabetes are also strongly encouraged to have annual comprehensive dilated eye exams with an ophthalmologist. These exams are critical to detecting any changes or signs of eye disease in the early stages, when problems are more easily treatable.

Contact Dr. Eric Donnenfeld

To schedule an eye exam with Dr. Donnenfeld, please contact our practice today.

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