Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

Tue, November 30th, 2021

November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness month—a time to become more aware, learn about early detection, management, and how to thrive while living with diabetes. 

Diabetes can be an everyday battle, not just for the diagnosed but also for loved ones. Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness month gives those diagnosed and those closest to them the opportunity to gain valuable information and awareness around what it means to live with this disease and how it can affect their vision. 

What is diabetic eye disease?

Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye problems people living with diabetes can suffer from due to the disease—diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, glaucoma, and cataracts.

How does diabetic eye disease affect the eyes?

Diabetes affects the eyes when a person’s blood glucose, blood sugar, gets too high. High glucose can alter fluid levels causing swelling within the tissues of the eyes that help the eyes to focus—leading to blurred vision. 

Prolonged high glucose levels can damage tiny blood vessels—leading to damaged vessels leaking fluids and causing swelling and countless problems within the eyes. 

People living with diabetes are at risk of vision loss and blindness.   

When and if symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Blurry or wavy vision
  • Frequent, day to day, vision changes
  • Dark areas or vision loss
  • Spots or dark strings (floaters)
  • Flashes of light

If these symptoms occur, it is important to speak with an eye doctor right away. 

What can be done to reduce the risks of developing diabetic eye disease?

Reducing the risks of developing diabetic eye disease starts with maintaining the root cause—diabetes. Take diabetic medications as prescribed, maintain a healthy diet, stay physically active, maintain a healthy weight, don’t smoke, and visit your eye doctor annually. 

An annual comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect early signs of diabetic eye disease, aiding in treating eye problems before much vision loss can occur. 

Make sure to manage the diabetic ABCs—measure your blood glucose (A1C or HbA1C test), blood pressure, and cholesterol regularly to aid in managing diabetes and keeping the eyes healthy. 

 The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases states that finding and treating diabetic retinopathy early on can reduce the risk of blindness by as much as 95%.

Resources and Help: 

If you or a loved one is struggling with diabetes and diabetic eye disease, rest assured there are various resources and helpful outlets readily available to help. 

Diabetic Eye Disease | NIDDK
Diabetic retinopathy | AOA
Your Options for Managing Diabetes
Blood Sugar and Exercise | ADA
Diabetic Eye Disease Resources
Center for Information | ADA

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