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What You Should Know About Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

In the United States, 1 in 10 people have diabetes, and around 1 in 3 have prediabetes. Many are unaware that they are diabetic. In fact, up to ⅓ of people who are diagnosed with it already have diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when diabetes starts to show up in your eyes. You may not even notice any changes in your vision. It starts with damage to the blood vessels in your retina (tissue at the back of your eye). It occurs in those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, or even if you had gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant). The longer you have uncontrolled blood sugars, the more likely you are to have your vision affected. 

As the condition worsens, you may start to notice floaters in your vision, blurred vision, missing spots, and vision loss. It is typically not a painful condition. 

So how does this happen? The walls of your blood vessels start to weaken and leak. These blood vessels can also be so damaged that fluid will build up in the center of your vision. This leads to noticeable vision loss. As the sugar levels in your blood vessels increase, it can cut off the supply of nutrients to your retina. This triggers your body to create new (and not very helpful) blood vessels that leak. We consider this advanced diabetic retinopathy. Scarring can start to develop and cause retinal detachments and also an increased pressure in your eye leading to glaucoma. 

If you are diabetic, it’s recommended to have your eyes checked yearly at a minimum. Your eye doctor can look for damage that usually occurs before you notice symptoms. Schedule an appointment with your eye doctor.

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