Diabetics can take steps to reduce the risk of blindness

Originally Published in the News-Press on 5/21/2013

About 8.3 percent of the population of the United States have diabetes. That’s 25.8 million children and adults, according to data from the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet

The American Diabetes Association says people with diabetes are 40 percent more likely to develop glaucoma, 60 percent more likely to develop cataracts, and the majority of diabetics will develop some form of diabetic retinopathy.

Glaucoma occurs when pressure builds up in the eye. The retina and optic nerve can become permanently damaged, resulting in irreversible vision loss. There are many successful treatments available to prevent permanent vision loss from glaucoma such as eye drops, lasers and surgical treatments.

Cataract is the clouding of the natural lens of the eye. This can cause glare, halos and blurry vision. Cataract surgery can be done to remove cataracts, but people with diabetes can sometimes have complications after successful cataract surgery.

Diabetic retinopathy refers to retinal disorders caused by diabetes. There are several stages of severity of diabetic retinopathy that can involve retinal blood vessel damage, bleeding, swelling and abnormal blood vessel growth. This can also result in loss of vision, sometimes permanently. Treatment for these complications includes laser treatment, eye injections and sometimes surgery, if necessary.

There are many steps diabetics can take to help prevent vision loss:

Visit diabetes.org or eye.md to learn more about diabetes and diabetic eye disease.

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