Diabetic Eye Care
A leading cause of blindness in the United States is preventable. Eye damage form diabetes, called diabetic retinopathy, can steal vision for unsuspecting diabetics. However, most diabetics need not worry about losing their eyesight to diabetic retinopathy if they receive regular ophthalmic exams.
A thorough evaluation by an ophthalmologist, a physician/surgeon who specializes in eye diseases, is important to all diabetics to assure early diagnosis and treatment of retinopathy. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, ophthalmological exams are recommended for all adults with diabetes at least annually. Children under age 10 are at lower risk for retinopathy. Conversely, pregnant women are at higher risk and should be seen more frequently.
An ophthalmologist can determine the stage of the disease, if it is treatable, or when the appropriate follow up can be performed. When done in a timely manner, many cases of blindness are preventable with laser treatment. The earlier clinically significant retinopathy is diagnosed, the better chances you have for preventing vision loss. Unfortunately retinopathy in its earliest stages often has no symptoms. Many patients do not know they have the disease until they have lost some of their vision, at which time laser treatment is less effective.
Blindness from retinopathy in many cases is preventable. Early evaluation by an ophthalmologist followed by regular annual exams is necessary to identify diabetic retinopathy in its earliest, most treatable stages.
Patients with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing other eye diseases that can cause vision loss and blindness, such as cataracts and glaucoma. These and other serious conditions often develop without vision loss or pain, so significant damage may be done to the eyes by the time the patient notices any symptoms. Diagnosing and treating eye disease early can prevent vision loss. It is also important to maintain a steady blood-sugar level, take prescribed medications, follow a healthy diet, exercise regularly and avoid smoking.