Diabetic eye disease describes a group of eye diseases that develop as a complication of diabetes including:
Unfortunately, diabetic retinopathy comes with no warning signs until damage exists. Because you aren’t likely to experience symptoms associated with diabetic retinopathy, annual eye exams (or more frequent visits depending on your ophthalmologist’s recommendations) are a critical component of prevention, early detection, and treatment.
Anyone with diabetes is at risk, and the longer you’ve suffered from diabetes, the higher risk you face.
You can’t prevent diabetic retinopathy, but you can reduce your risk by keeping your blood sugar levels under control. Research shows that patients with controlled blood sugar levels were less likely to progress to severe retinopathy. Other measures you can take include:
In most cases, the best treatment available is laser surgery. This procedure, paired with adequate follow-up and ongoing monitoring and treatment, can reduce the risk of blindness by as much as 90%. However, it cannot restore vision that’s been lost due to diabetic retinopathy. That’s why it’s so important to prioritize eye health even when you feel fine.
Diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed during a dilated eye exam performed by your ophthalmologist. Sharing your history of diabetes with your ophthalmologist is a critical component of your care.
Eye exams are important in detecting retinopathy before irreversible blindness occurs, but in some cases, diabetic retinopathy is identified before a patient even knows they have diabetes. In these cases, an eye exam can be lifesaving.