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November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

eye doctor performing eye exam

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, people with diabetes are more likely to develop blinding eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts. Recent studies have revealed low awareness of the issue among ethnicities at higher risk for diabetes. November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month and Minnesota Eye Consultants encourages those with diabetes to take proactive steps to protect their vision.

Did you know?

There are 29 million Americans that have diabetes.

  • 10 million of those who have diabetes are at risk for vision loss because they do not know they have the disease.
  • 3 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy.
  • Diabetic Retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among working-age Americans.

The early stages of diabetic retinopathy usually have no symptoms. The disease often progresses unnoticed until bleeding occurs and affects vision. The lack of prompt or routine retinal health checks increases the risk of permanent vision loss. If diabetic macular edema (DME) occurs, it can result in blurred vision.

comparison of normal vision and vision with diabetic retinopathy

There are treatment options available for Diabetic Eye Diseases, with the goal of both maintaining vision and preventing further vision loss. First and foremost, it’s important to get your blood sugar levels under control. Although laser therapy is available to treat the damage within the retina, intra-vitreal injections are commonly used for treatment. Eye drops, pills and even surgical procedures are treatment options as well, but your physician will discuss what avenue makes most sense for you.

Five steps to protect your vision while managing your diabetes:

  1. Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor
  2. Reach and maintain a healthy weight
  3. Add more physical activity to your daily routine
  4. Control your ABCs–A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  5. Kick the smoking habit

If you have diabetes, please see an ophthalmologist once every year. Remember early detection and treatment leads to healthy eyesight!

Have questions about diabetic eye disease? Schedule an appointment with the experts at Minnesota Eye Consultants!

Sources: American Academy of Ophthalmology