Anyone with diabetes is at risk for diabetic eye disease and should have a complete eye examination with dilation every year. Diabetes can cause severe vision loss and or even blindness if left untreated. Risk of complication from diabetes increases the longer one has the disease and with poorly controlled blood sugar levels. Diabetes is often times first diagnosed thru an eye examination, when a significant change in vision occurs or vision seems to be fluctuating. Elevated blood sugar can cause a noticeable change in vision. Other complications include diabetic retinopathy where the blood vessels of the retina swell and leak fluid. This can cause hemorrhaging of the retinal blood vessels and swelling of the central vision (macula), which can lead to vision loss. Another serious complication is neovascularization. As the disease progresses blood vessels in the retina become faulty, providing an inadequate oxygen and nutrients supply to the retinal tissue. As a result new more fragile vessels begin to grow, which can break and bleed leading to retinal detachments, macular edema, blood vessels growing in the iris which can cause glaucoma.

Nearly half of all people with diabetes will develop some degree of diabetic retinopathy during their lifetime, which is why yearly eye examinations are so important. Monitoring vision and the health of the retina can help prevent more serious complications. Should diabetic retinopathy develop treatment with a laser can help reduce the risk of severe vision loss but will not restore vision completely. Adequate control of blood glucose levels slows the onset and progression of retinopathy and lessens the need for laser surgery. Finding diabetic retinopathy early is the best way to prevent vision loss.

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