Diabetes and The eye

Diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of blindness in Americans ages 20-65.  Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.  Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar.  Too much sugar in the blood can damage the blood vessels in the body, including vessels in the retina.  The retina is the light sensitive tissue in the back of the eye, is essential for good vision.  


According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report 6/10/2014:

            -29.1 million Americans have diabetes

-Between 2005–2008: 4.2 million (28.5%) adults with diabetes had diabetic retinopathy


Diabetic retinopathy manifests itself by creating blurred vision.  If you experience blurred vision, see an eye doctor immediately as it may be a sign that diabetes is affecting the eyes.  Blurred vision may also be a sign that a person is developing Type 2 diabetes.  The length of time that an individual has had diabetes is the most important risk factor for loss of vision.  50% of individuals who have had diabetes for 10 years show signs of diabetic retinopathy.  After a patient has had diabetes for 30 years, the incidence of diabetic retinopathy increases to 90%.  The second most important risk factor in developing diabetic retinopathy is the ability to control blood sugar.  Tight blood sugar control can prevent or delay the development or progression of diabetic retinopathy.  


For diabetics, yearly eye exams can help identify and prevent severe eye problems associated with the disease such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts.