Each November marks Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month in the United States, a time when we work to raise awareness of the damage diabetes can do to eyesight. Left uncontrolled, diabetes wreaks havoc on the body in a number of ways.
Where your eyes are concerned, diabetes raises the risk of cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and even eye infections. Some early symptoms of these and other eye diseases are subtle and may be mistaken for the “over 40 vision” we all begin to experience in midlife.
Here are some of the top symptoms to watch for if you have diabetes. These symptoms could signal diabetic eye disease that must be addressed as soon as possible:
- Blurry vision
- Floaters or black spots in your visual field
- Decreased color perception
- Eye pain
- Night blindness, nighttime halos or glares
- Double vision
- Light sensitivity
- Blemishes on the eye, such as sties
This is by no means an all-inclusive list of potential signs of diabetic eye damage, but they are the most common. Of course, if you experience these or other symptoms of visual disturbance, contact your eye doctor immediately.
Often, symptoms such as these worsen gradually. However, if you notice a sudden onset of these symptoms or they worsen quickly, make an eye appointment immediately. Eye infections, macular edema (swelling of the retina) and diabetic retinopathy (damage to the blood vessels in the eye) can be serious and result in irreparable damage or blindness.
What do I do to avoid diabetes complications?
The first, most obvious, step to avoiding diabetic eye diseases is to get your diabetes under control. The most effective way to do that is through a healthy diet and exercise regimen supervised by your physician. This will stabilize blood sugar and reduce the spikes that cause so much bodily harm.
Get regular eye examinations. Although diabetic eye damage can present in a number of ways, you can also have microscopic damage that has not yet become obvious to you. Your ophthalmologist will use sophisticated technology to get a detailed look at the structures of your eyes to spot problems early for the best possible treatment and prognosis. Plan on getting an exam every year – more frequently if your eye doctor recommends it.
Work with your general practitioner or endocrinologist to keep a close eye on your health. This will help your ophthalmologist provide better vision care as well. Stable blood sugar is essential to getting reliable eye measurements for prescription glasses, contact lenses or permanent vision correction surgery.
Missouri Eye Institute is happy to help our patients maintain and improve their eyesight. We encourage you to schedule a LASIK consultation or cataract evaluation with us at (800) 383-3831 or through our website: MissouriEye.com