Why Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month is Important
Did you know that diabetes could cause eye disease? It’s actually the leading cause of blindness and many don’t experience symptoms. Early detection, timely treatment and appropriate follow-up care are the only ways to prevent vision loss.
“Diabetic patients require special eye care not only to manage their blood sugar, but also to ensure the whole body is cared for,” says Dr. Shofner. Scheduling a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year is a vital part of that care, considering potential eye complications such as cataracts, macular swelling, and optic nerve damage.
What is diabetic eye disease?
Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye conditions that can affect people with diabetes. All forms of diabetic eye disease have the potential to cause severe vision loss and blindness. Diabetic eye disease can result in the following:
- Diabetic retinopathy affects blood vessels in the light-sensitive tissue called the retina that lines the back of the eye. It is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes and the leading cause of vision impairment and blindness among working-age adults.
- Diabetic macular edema (DME). A consequence of diabetic retinopathy, DME is swelling in an area of the retina called the macula.
- Cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. Adults with diabetes are 2-5 times more likely than those without diabetes to develop cataract. Cataract also tends to develop at an earlier age in people with diabetes.
- Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve—the bundle of nerve fibers that connects the eye to the brain. Some types of glaucoma are associated with elevated pressure inside the eye. In adults, diabetes nearly doubles the risk of glaucoma.
How can diabetic eye disease be detected?
A comprehensive dilated eye exam includes visual acuity testing, Tonometry, pupil dilation and Optical coherence tomography (OCT). These tests allow the doctor to check the retina for:
- Changes to blood vessels
- Leaking blood vessels or warning signs of leaky blood vessels, such as fatty deposits
- Swelling of the macula (DME)
- Changes in the lens
- Damage to nerve tissue
Shofner Vision Center will provide consistent and mindful care to help diabetic patients keep their vision and treat impairment. Contact your local vision care center professional or if you are in the Nashville area, contact Dr. Shofner at (615) 340-4733.
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