For those with diabetes, the possibility of developing an eye disorder is backed up by some disturbing statistics: diabetes is the leading cause of new blindness in people 20 to 74 years of age; and, annually, 12,000 to 24,000 people lose their sight because of diabetes. While the threat is real, simple steps can be taken to mitigate the risk.
According to the American Diabetes Association, there are several common eye complications developed by diabetics. They include
- Glaucoma: This condition causes an increase in fluid pressure inside the eye, causing optic nerve damage and loss of vision. The risk of developing glaucoma is nearly double for those with diabetes; it’s also proportional: the older or longer a person has had diabetes, the more common glaucoma is.
- Cataracts: A common condition in non-diabetics in which the eye’s clear lens clouds and blocks light, those with the disease are 60% more likely to develop this eye condition. Diabetics tend to develop cataracts at an earlier age, with faster progression.
- Non-proliferative retinopathy: This is the most common form of retinopathy, which causes the capillaries at the back of the eye to balloon, forming pouches. The disorder is progressive, moving through three stages (mild, moderate, and severe), as blood vessels become increasingly blocked.
- Proliferative retinopathy: This condition results when retinopathy progresses to a more serious form in which the blood vessels are so damaged they close off. In response, new blood vessels start growing in the retina. These new vessels are weak and can leak blood, blocking vision, which is a condition called vitreous hemorrhage. The new blood vessels can also cause scar tissue to grow. After the scar tissue shrinks, it can distort the retina or pull it out of place, a condition called retinal detachment.
With regular checkups and taking care of yourself, these eye conditions can remain minor. If a major problem does develop, however, there are treatments that often work well.
Symbius Medical staff is available in-store in regional retail branch locations supplying home medical equipment needs, by phone at 800-948-1868 to place home medical supply orders, or online at www.symbiusmedical.com.