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Learn About Diabetic Retinopathy and Blindness During National Diabetes Month


Diabetes is the number one precursor to impaired vision of men and women aged 20-74 years. Since 2008, over 4 million people in North America living with diabetes were subsequently diagnosed with blindness caused by diabetes. Of this number, 70,000 suffered from severe diabetic retinopathy, which can result in irreversible loss of vision.


While not everyone is at risk of diabetes related vision loss, it is important to know the connection between the disease and vision loss.


To start, those living with diabetes are at risk. The best way to find out if you have diabetic retinopathy is to have your eye care professional give you a complete eye test yearly. The longer the affliction goes unchecked, the greater the risk of diabetes caused blindness. Quick treatment is necessary to preventing further deterioration.


Expectant mothers that have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes have a stronger risk of contracting diabetic retinopathy. It is important to schedule a complete dilated eye examination after diagnosis as well.


So why all the worry? Wouldn't there be symptoms if you were going blind?


Well the answer shockingly is, not always. There are several types of diabetic retinopathy, and only those which are in the advanced phases are easily discernible. Proliferative diabetes may have no symptoms. Macular edema is another diabetes related disease which results in severe vision loss. Both conditions may manifest without obvious symptoms. This is a reason that early detection is the key to halting any lasting damage.


A thorough examination will look for precursors of diabetic retinopathy. There are distinct stages to this exam which will show the typical symptoms, including a swelling of the retina, the existence of fatty deposits on the retina, leaky blood vessels, and damaged nerve tissue. Want to know what are the steps in a complete eye exam?


First of all you will undergo a visual acuity exam by means of an eye chart which is used to determine how well you see at various distances. This is the same as the visual acuity checks given by optometrists to see if you need corrective lenses.


In a dilated eye exam, the eye doctor puts drops in your eyes to enlarge the size of your pupils. Though not a particularly beloved test by most people, it can prevent a lot of heartache in 10-15 years. This practice makes it feasible to monitor a larger section of the interior portion of your eyes to identify for distinct signs that indicate the presence of diabetic retinopathy. The fleeting discomfort could save your vision.


It is important to value your health. Even a little laziness can cause irreparable deterioration. If you are diabetic, it is imperative to schedule an eye test with an eye doctor as soon as possible.

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