DIABETES AWARENESS MONTH
If you are one of the estimated 29.1 million people that have diabetes, then you have most likely had a discussion with you doctor about possible health related issues that comes with the disease. Diabetes also can have a negative effect on your eyesight. Obtaining regular screenings will allow you to monitor your health and react to any changes that may have occurred.
While it is important for everyone to maintain routine visits with their optometrist, people with diabetes need to be especially vigilant in scheduling their annual exams. Diseases such as Glaucoma, cataracts, and retinopathy are best treated when they are detected early. Talk to your eye doctor about any concerns or vision loss you may be experiencing for the best chances of early detection and treatment.
Glaucoma occurs when pressure builds inside the eye and is 40% more likely to occur in individuals who have diabetes. The pressure pinches blood vessels that carry blood to the retina and optic nerve. Vision is gradually lost as the retina and nerves are damaged from the increase in pressure. There are several treatments available for Glaucoma; however, some treatments may require surgery. Early detection of high pressure may be able to be managed by medication. Maintaining the proper eye pressure is key to preventing permanent damage to the eye.
As we age, many people run a higher risk of developing cataracts. Those with diabetes are 60% more likely to develop them. By detecting cataracts early you can help to slow down the progression. The typical corrective action for cataracts is to remove the lens of the eye. Patients then would typically receive a new transplanted lens. In people with diabetes, vision can get worse after the removal of the lens and glaucoma may start to develop so additional treatment may be necessary.
Retinopathy is a general term used for all disorders of the retina that are caused by diabetes. The good news that there have been giant strides in the past decade on treatment for retinopathy.
Have you noticed a pattern? Particularly those with diabetes must be extra vigilant with screenings and health checkups. The key to being able to keep your vision as clear as possible when you suffer from diabetes is early detection. Keep in mind that you often can lose more than 60% of your vision before you begins to see significant differences. Talk with your doctor if you have diabetes so you know what symptoms to look for and schedule your annual vision screening.
About the author: John D. Bissell, owner of Bissell Eye Care and Tri-State Low Vision Services, offers comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family, ocular disease detection and treatment, eye glasses, sun glasses, active wear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. He has undergone specialized training for treatment of low vision by the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists utilizing customized telescopic eyeglasses, prisms and telescopic implants for patients who qualify. The practice accepts most types of vision and health insurance plans.