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Diabetes Increases Risk on Eye Diseases

Having diabetes puts you at an increased risk for certain eye diseases. Diabetes puts people at risk for cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness. The longer someone has diabetes, the more likely he or she will get diabetic retinopathy. Nearly half of all people with diabetes will develop some degree of diabetic retinopathy during their lifetime.

Diabetic retinopathy can lead to blindness if left untreated. In diabetic retinopathy, abnormal blood vessels grow in the retina, the light-sensing tissue that lines the back of the eye. These vessels can bleed into the tissue, and in advanced stages, cause the retina to detach from the rest of the eye. In addition, the central part of the retina, which is crucial to vision, may swell. The result of these changes may be vision loss or blindness.

It is important to have your eyes checked yearly including a dilated eye exam from your eye doctor. This exam can identify eye complications early on. By dilating the pupil, an eye doctor can examine the retina and can detect any changes that suggest diabetic retinopathy. Early detection, routine monitoring, and appropriate timing of laser surgery (when needed) are essential to effective treatment of the disease. If your doctor finds early signs of eye disease, laser eye surgery, contact lenses, eyeglasses and medications may be immediately recommended.

It is also important to visit your eye doctor to ask questions and to get information you need to take care of yourself and your family. Ask about the eye disease, relevant tests and treatment. Make the visit fruitful by asking for printed material about your condition or where you can go for more information. Take notes or get a friend or family member to take notes for you. If you don’t understand your eye doctor’s responses, ask questions until you do understand.

If you have diabetes and have not had a dilated exam this year, please schedule one this month.Your vision is worth it.

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