November is Diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy Awareness Month. It has special significance to ClearView Eye Center because as eye doctors, we see the effects of diabetes on our patients’ vision.
What is diabetic eye disease?
Some areas of the eye that are affected by Diabetes are the retina, macula, lens and the optic nerve.
Diabetic eye conditions include diabetic retinopathy, Diabetic macular edema (DME), Cataract and Glaucoma.
Patients with diabetes should see their ophthalmologist yearly for a comprehensive dilated exam to monitor changes in the eye. The National Eye Institute says, “Early detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up care of diabetic eye disease can protect against vision loss.”
Only 5% of people with diabetes in the United States have Type 1 diabetes. It is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and is the result of the body not producing insulin, a hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy. Type 1 diabetes can be treated with insulin therapy.
Type 2 diabetes is found in individuals whose body does not use insulin properly, resulting in higher than normal blood glucose levels. According to the American Diabetes Association, “At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time it isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels.”
Vision risks for diabetics include a higher rate of blindness than non-diabetics, but most people with diabetes have only minor problems. Diabetic retinopathy is a general term for all disorders of the retina caused by diabetes. The ADA provides a thorough discussion of vision complications for diabetics.