November is Diabetes Eye Disease Awareness Month


In the United States, diabetes is fast becoming one of the leading causes of blindness in adults. As of 2007, 23.6 million children and adults in the United States suffer from diabetes, and the number is still growing. Also, surprisingly, one third of persons with diabetes have not been diagnosed. One of the reasons for this disease being America’s aging population and rising rates of obesity. This November being Diabetic Eye Disease Month, a campaign has been launched to create awareness about eye disease caused by diabetes. In other words, doctors would join the American Academy of Ophthalmology to make people know about the risks that diabetes posses to the eyes. They would also urge them to see ophthalmologist and primary care physician. This is because; the earlier diabetes is diagnosed, followed by appropriate lifestyle changes and treatment, the better are the chances of avoiding vision loss and other health problems.

Although eye problems can be a cause of worry for the people with diabetes, most diabetics have only minor eye disorders. One of the major serious outcomes of the disease can be blindness or vision loss. Other problems include Diabetic Retinopathy, a condition which occurs in the persons with diabetes. Diabetic Retinopathy causes damage to the retina, the light sensitive lining at the back of your eye. It is a serious sight-threatening complication form of diabetes.

Diabetic retinopathy symptoms include:

–   Seeing spots or floaters in field of vision

–   Blurred vision

–   Having a dark or empty spot in the center of the vision

–   Difficulty while seeing at night

Presence of high level of blood sugar for long periods could lead to the accumulation of fluid in the lens inside the eye that help eye while focusing. This alters the curvature of the lens and leads in the development of symptoms related to blurred vision. In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, there are no visual symptoms.

After the blood sugar level returns back to the normal level, the blurring of distance vision as a result of lens swelling subsides. Also if the blood sugar level is kept under check, the onset and progression of diabetic retinopathy could be prevented. Also by undergoing a comprehensive dilated eye examination on annual basis, a person could avoid significant vision loss from diabetic retinopathy. More importantly, by following the doctor’s advice with appropriate diet and exercise, and with blood sugar level on the normal scale, it is possible to keep the progression of the disease under control.

Treatments

If the disease peaks to the advanced level, leakage of fluid from blood vessels could result in macular edema. And only laser surgery could seal leaking of blood vessels or stop new leaky blood vessels from forming.

To minimize inflammation or stop the formation of new blood vessels, eye medications may be needed. If the situation worsens and reaches critical stage, a surgical procedure may be needed to remove and replace the gel-like fluid in the back of the eye, known as the vitreous. A retinal detachment caused due to diabetic retinopathy which involves separation of the light-receiving lining in the back of the eye, may also require surgical repair.

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