Diabetes is a disease that affects nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States, which is about 1 of every 15 people. Another 86 million Americans have prediabetes and will likely develop type 2 diabetes if they do not change their habits, and the crazy part is, many of them don’t even know it!
November has been declared National Diabetes Awareness month with the intention of making more people aware of this disease, its causes and effects, and ways to prevent it.
The American Diabetes Association estimates that the total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is $245 billion. That’s a lot of money! We could take a huge burden off of our government and use our tax dollars for more productive things if we could eliminate or even reduce diabetes in our society.
The three main ways that a person can lower their risk of diabetes is by eating a healthy diet, increasing physical activity and losing weight.
There are many negative health effects of diabetes, but many people do not know that diabetes can cause serious health problems for the eyes.
Diabetic Eye Disease
Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye conditions that commonly affects people with diabetes. The disease often progresses unnoticed until vision is compromised.
- Diabetic retinopathy: When the body suffers from constant high blood sugar as it does in those who have diabetes or prediabetes, tiny blood vessels in the retina are damaged, which can cause vision loss if undetected.
- Diabetic macular edema (DME): This happens when fluid builds up from damaged/swollen blood vessels in the macula. It is often the result of diabetic retinopathy, but can happen at any stage of the disease.
- Cataract: When a person’s lens becomes cloudy, compromising vision. Adults with diabetes are 2-5 times more likely to develop cataracts and usually happens at an early age in those who have diabetes
- Glaucoma: Is a condition where the optic nerve is damaged causing vision loss. Adults with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from glaucoma.
Early Detection of Diabetes
The eyes are a window to the soul—and your health! An annual eye exam can detect diabetes before a general doctor can. This early detection allows the doctors and patients to work together to prevent damage to the eyes and the rest of the body by starting early treatment and/or addressing lifestyle changes that need to be made.
In order to SEE your best and start 2016 off right, schedule your annual eye exam with the trusted doctors at VisionFirst!