Diabetes and Vision Loss:WHY EYE EXAMS ARE THE KEY
Diabetes affects a huge portion of the population, making it one of the biggest culprits of vision loss. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) places the number at 20.8 million, with a third of the sufferers unaware they have it. The American Optometric Association (AOA) cites diabetes as the leading cause of new onset blindness in working-age people, with diabetics 25% more likely to lose their vision than the rest of the population. The reason? Sugar buildup in the bloodstream associated with diabetes can break down the capillaries that lead to the retina. Continuing damage to the retinal tissue, called diabetic retinopathy, can end in compromised vision or even blindness.
An eye exam can work in two significant ways when it comes to detecting diseases, including diabetes: diagnosis and treatment. Your optometrist may see fluid or other signs that suggest the need for testing. Once diagnosed, the diabetic eye exam is a crucial step in limiting associated vision loss. With any diabetes diagnosis, your doctor should refer you to an optometrist for a dilated eye exam at least once a year. With early treatment, the AOA has found that 95% of people with significant diabetic retinopathy can avoid substantial vision loss.