diabetesDiabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels within the retina. The blood vessels may begin to swell and leak or new blood vessels may begin to grow on the surface of the retina. These changes may result in vision loss or blindness.

The longer someone has diabetes, the greater his or her risk for developing diabetic eye disease. Almost 50% of all people with diabetes develop some diabetic retinopathy during their life

There are often no symptoms during the early stages of the disease. There is no eye pain and vision isn’t blurred until the condition worsens. That is why it is so important to have an annual dilated examination if you have diabetes.

Some diabetic retinopathy is treatable with the use of a laser. It is used to shrink the abnormal vessels growing in the retina. Studies have shown that this treatment reduces the risk of severe vision loss by 60%. It often cannot restore vision that has already been lost. That is why early detection is so important.

Another complication related to diabetes is cataracts. People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop cataracts and often develop them earlier than people without diabetes.

People with diabetes are also twice as likely to develop glaucoma as other adults. The longer you have diabetes, the greater the risk for developing glaucoma. Glaucoma related to diabetes is treated with medications, laser or surgery.

If you are diabetic, we urge you to have annual dilated eye examinations.