Do you have diabetes? Did you know that it puts your eyes at a huge risk?
If you have diabetes, you must protect your eyes from degenerative damage caused by it. Otherwise, you put yourself at severe risk of losing your eyesight.
Sadly, many people are not aware of these dangers. That is why the American Academy of Ophthalmologists (AAO) has designated November Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month.
Keep reading to learn more about diabetic eye disease month and how to protect your eyes if you have diabetes.
Can Diabetes Damage Your Eyes?
Diabetes can ravage your body. The increased blood sugar it causes can do a lot of damage to all parts of your body, including your eyes.
Excess glucose in your blood is particularly damaging to your blood vessels. Diabetes increases your chances of developing other eye conditions like glaucoma or cataracts.
There are also specific eye conditions only people with diabetes can develop. The most alarming of these is diabetic retinopathy.
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is the degeneration of blood vessels in your retina. It causes your blood vessels to weaken, which results in fluid leaking in your eye and the proliferation of more weak vessels.
The early stages of diabetic retinopathy cause your existing blood vessels to get weaker. These tend to bulge and expand from the pressure of the fluid flowing through them.
The longer they bulge, the more likely they are to rupture. Ruptures in your blood vessels mean that diabetic retinopathy is progressing. They also allow fluid to leak into your eyes.
As fluid leaks into your eye, it can block light from reaching your retina. This block is the first visual symptom that diabetic retinopathy is likely to cause.
The bulging vessels may also cause disturbances in your eyesight. But fluid leaking over your retina will undoubtedly impair your vision.
Once leaks develop in your retinal blood vessels, more problems are likely to occur.
Leaking and ruptured blood vessels in your retina trigger the growth of new vessels. These blood vessels tend to be weaker and can continue to rupture and leak fluid into your eye.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy occurs when new blood vessels grow in your eyes. It creates a feedback loop where new blood vessels grow and break, triggering more to grow.
This stage of the disease poses a real threat to your vision and, without treatment, can cause vision loss. Early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy is the best way to prevent proliferation.
How Can You Protect Your Eyes From Diabetes?
Aside from detection and treatment, the best thing you can do is manage your diabetes. High blood sugar levels are the primary cause of diabetic retinopathy. So managing your blood sugar is best.
A healthy diet and lifestyle can go a long way to prevent severe diabetic retinopathy side effects. Your eye doctor will help you find the best foods and lifestyle practices for you.
If the disease continues to develop, there are other treatment options. They prevent new blood vessels from growing and seal leaking vessels.
If you have diabetes, you should see your eye doctor at least twice a year.
Is it time for you to have an eye exam? Schedule an appointment at Levin Eyecare in Pikesville, MD!