Diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of blindness among adults between the ages of 20 and 74. According to the National Eye Institute, nearly 7.7 million people age 40 or older have diabetic eye disease; this number is expected to reach 11 million by 2030. Since November is National Diabetes Month, Berkeley Eye Center of Houston wants to share some facts about how those with diabetes can protect their vision.
Diabetic eye disease actually encompasses a group of eye conditions that arise as a result of having diabetes. These conditions can cause severe vision loss and even blindness. The longer a person has diabetes, the greater their risk for developing a diabetic eye disease. One of the biggest problems is many diabetes-related eye conditions have no symptoms. A person may not notice vision changes until the condition enters a more advanced stage.
The most common types of diabetic eye disorders are:
- Non-proliferative and proliferative diabetic retinopathy: Occurs when the blood vessels in the retina become damaged. This is the most common diabetic eye disease; between 40 and 45 percent of those with diagnosed with diabetes have some degree of retinopathy.
- Diabetic macular edema: Blood and fluids accumulation in the macula part of the retina causing swelling.
- Cataracts: The lens of the eye begins to cloud.
- Glaucoma: Fluid pressure inside the eye increases, leading to optic nerve damage and loss of vision.
Stay on TRACK to Protect Your Vision
The fact that diabetes-related eye conditions often have no early symptoms is why it’s so important for people with diabetes to get a comprehensive dilated eye examination at least once a year. Early diagnosis and treatment are the keys to preventing vision loss and blindness.
In addition to a regular comprehensive eye exam, it’s important for people with diabetes to maintain a healthy lifestyle to preserve their vision. The National Eye Institute has put together a list of recommendations to help people with diabetes stay on “TRACK” to prevent a diabetic eye disease:
- Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor.
- Reach and maintain a healthy weight.
- Add more physical activity to your daily routine.
- Control your ABCs — A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Kick the smoking habit.
Promising new treatments have been developed for diabetic eye disease. These include photocoagulation laser treatments, anti-angiogenic drug therapy and intravitreal steroids. Unfortunately, only about half the people with diabetes get an annual comprehensive dilated eye exam. These examinations are crucial for detecting diabetic eye disease during the earliest stages, when they are the most treatable.
Houston Diabetic Eye Care
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, taking your medications and getting regular comprehensive eye exams are the most effective ways to control and prevent diabetic eye disease. The Houston eye doctors at the Berkeley Eye Center of Houston have extensive experience in treating patients with diabetes-related eye problems. We utilize the latest techniques and technology for treating eye conditions caused by diabetes.
If you or a family member has diabetes and it’s been more than a year since your last eye exam, we encourage you to call Berkeley Eye Center and schedule a comprehensive eye exam. With 24 clinics and optical locations located throughout the greater Houston area, it’s a good chance there’s a Berkeley Eye Center of Houston near you.