Diabetes can affect more than just your blood sugar. In fact, if you have diabetes, you are at risk for diabetic retinopathy, a condition that can severely limit your vision and even cause blindness in extreme cases. Here’s how to know if you’re at risk:
WHO IS AT RISK?
If the level of sugar in your blood, also known as glucose, is above average, you may have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Retinopathy is more commonly found in those with type 1, but anyone with diabetes or high blood pressure is at risk.
WHAT IS RETINOPATHY?
Behind your eye there are several tiny blood vessels that lead from the retina to the optic nerve and then to the brain. Retinopathy affects these blood vessels, which in turn affects your vision. Because of the glucose in your blood running through these vessels, your eye will automatically try to protect itself from it by creating additional tiny blood vessels, which is what creates retinopathy, the actual root of the problem. Because these new blood vessels are so delicate, they easily bleed, which damages the cells of the retina. At first you will experience blurred vision or see floaters and flashes. If not treated, retinopathy will continue to develop and make your vision worse and worse.
HOW TO PREVENT RETINOPATHY
If you are actively trying to be healthy and treat your diabetes and glucose level, you are much less likely to develop any complications. However, those that have diabetes longer are at a higher risk, so the more time that goes by, the more crucial it becomes to get your eyes checked. Other factors that could lead to retinopathy are high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, high cholesterol level, and pregnancy.
It is recommended that you have your eyes checked by a professional at least once a year. Standard eye exams are performed everywhere from Dallas to Pittsburgh, so find your nearest clinic today! Schedule an appointment to find out if you could be at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Photo credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Diabetic_retinopathy-NIE.gif