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November is National Diabetes Month

Are you aware that having diabetes increases your chances of vision threatening eye damage? According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) diabetes is the number one cause of blindness in adults between 20 and 74. One of the risks of diabetes is when the retina is damaged by excessive pressure in the blood vessels of the eye, which is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most incapacitating complications of the disease and it is projected to affect 11 million people by 2030.

In its early stages, diabetic retinopathy often presents no noticeable symptoms. When the pressure in the blood vessels in the retina builds up they start to leak causing retinal damage. This can cause vision loss and when not treated, blindness.

Because symptoms are often not noticed until vision is already at risk it is imperative to schedule a yearly diabetic eye exam if you have diabetes. Warning signs of developing diabetic retinopathy include any kind of vision problems such as fluctuations, spots, shadows, double or blurred vision or pain. Cataracts and glaucoma are also more common in individuals with diabetes than in the average population.

All diabetic eye diseases are more damaging when glucose levels are uncontrolled. Monitoring your sugar levels through diet, exercise and staying healthy and annual eye exams is the best defense for preserving your vision.

This month, spread awareness of the risks of diabetic eye disease and consult with your eye doctor if you have any questions. It could mean the difference between a life of sight and one of darkness.

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