People living with diabetes can have eye problems that lead to vision loss or blindness. And diabetic eye disease often has no early symptoms. That’s why an annual eye exam is critical for people with diabetes.
The longer you have diabetes, the greater your chance for diabetic eye disease. Everyone with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes is at risk, but other risk factors include high blood pressure and diabetes-related kidney disease.
Diabetic retinopathy is a common type of diabetic eye disease. High blood sugar causes tiny blood vessels in the eye to grow and leak blood and other fluids onto the retina. The retina is a thin group of cells at the back of the eye. When light hits the retina, it sends signals to the brain to form visual images. Diabetic retinopathy damages the retina, causing vision loss.
Warning signs of the disease may include spots or floaters in your field of vision, blurry vision, a dark or empty spot in the center of your vision, and changes in vision or poor night vision.
These symptoms can come and go, but even if it seems like they have gone away, the problem can cause ongoing damage.
Diabetes has been linked to other eye diseases, including macular edema, cataracts and glaucoma.
It’s important to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam every year. Regular eye exams can detect problems early when they can be more successfully treated. Early diagnosis and proper treatment can greatly lower the chance of blindness.
Your primary care physician needs a copy of your test results from your eye doctor to keep your diabetes plan of care current. If your doctor hasn’t talked to you about having an eye exam, make sure to ask about one at your next visit.
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The above material is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician. Physicians and other health care providers are encouraged to use their own best medical judgment based upon all available information and the condition of the patient in determining the best course of treatment.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association