November is National Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month in order to raise awareness about diabetes and to educate the community on the potential risks factors of being a diabetic. There are over 25 million Americans that have diabetes and 79 million adults over the age of 20 are prediabetics. Diabetes is the leading cause of vision loss for Americans under the age of 74.
Diabetes can lead to several complications such as heart disease, stroke, vision loss, kidney disease, nerve damage, and amputation among others, and it’s a significant risk factor for developing glaucoma.
One of the most common diabetic eye disease is diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy weakens the small blood vessels in the retina. Retinal blood vessels can break down, leak, or become blocked; affecting and impairing vision over time.
Studies have found that more than one third of those diagnosed with diabetes do not have yearly recommended dilated eye exams. The longer a person has diabetes, the greater their risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, but diabetic retinopathy does not only affect people who have had diabetes for many years, it can also appear within the first year or two after the onset of the disease.
Patients can help to reduce the risk of developing diabetic eye disease by not smoking, controlling their cholesterol, lipid profile, blood pressure, and weight, as well as eating healthy and exercising.