In the United States, more than 29 million individuals have diabetes. Divided into two groups, this number reflects 21 million diagnosed cases and an estimated 8.1 million undiagnosed cases1. The AAO (American Academy of Ophthalmology) has named November “Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness” month in order to increase awareness of the disease, and the vision issues that can be associated with it. At Providence Eye & Laser Specialists, we see this as an opportunity to educate diabetics and the general public on the importance of comprehensive diabetic eye care.

What does diabetes have to do with your eyes?

Diabetes affects the small blood vessels in the body due to poor insulin control, which can lead to serious complications affecting numerous organs, including the kidneys, heart, and the back of your eye called the retina. Unfortunately, diabetes is also the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults between the ages of 20-70, making proper diabetic eye care a top priority. According to a June 2014 CDC report:

  • 4.2 million diabetics 40 years of age or older were experiencing diabetic retinopathy, a condition that damages retinal blood vessels
  • Approximately 655,000 diabetic cases had advanced diabetic retinopathy, which has more potential to lead to severe, perhaps permanent vision loss.
  • Roughly 1 in 4 people have diabetes but does not know it
  • 86 million adults have pre-diabetes
  • Type I or Type II diabetes affects 208,000 Americans younger than 20 years of age

It is highly recommended that diabetic patients have a full dilated eye examination performed by an eye doctor with expertise in diabetic eye care every year. Some side effects of diabetes can show up in the eye, and if detected, these conditions are more likely to be occurring in other organs and blood vessels in the rest of the body. In many cases, a person is unaware of the effects of diabetes in the retina, since vision is not always affected. Side effects such as leakage of blood from the blood vessels into the retina or swelling in the retina may lead to vision loss if not properly treated. These side effects are easily picked up in a dilated eye examination, which is encouraged by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Of course, if you have diabetes, the best way to keep your vision clear and your eyes healthy is to maintain good insulin control and have regular follow-ups with your doctor.

Our dedicated team of eye care specialists want to help you take steps to prevent vision loss if you have diabetes. Dr. Vanessa Mills at Providence Eye & Laser Specialists is now accepting new diabetic eye care patients. Contact us today to schedule your appointment and let us help you protect your vision.

1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention