November is American Diabetes Month and Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month. Nearly 29 million Americans—or 9 percent of the population—have diabetes, which increases your risk for many serious health problems and is a leading cause of avoidable cases of vision loss and blindness. Another 85 million Americans are estimated to have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing the disease.
We promote diabetes awareness and prevention because the disease is an epidemic in our communities. The longer you or someone you know has diabetes, the greater the risk for diabetic eye disease. This month, we’ll give you tips to help prevent diabetes. If you already have this chronic condition, we’ll help you manage your diabetes.
What Is Diabetes?
Insulin, a hormone made in your pancreas, helps your body use glucose, or blood sugar, for energy. Diabetes develops if your body can’t produce or use insulin effectively to control your glucose levels. High blood glucose levels can damage many parts of your body, including your heart, kidneys and the small blood vessels in your eyes.
Type 1 diabetes is a complete lack of insulin and develops most often in young people. Type 2 diabetes results when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin and/or is unable to use insulin properly. Instead of converting sugar into energy, it backs up in the bloodstream and causes a variety of symptoms. It is more likely to occur in people who are over 40 years, overweight, and have a family history but it is increasingly found in younger people.
What Is Diabetic Eye Disease?
These are the most serious eye diseases that occur as a complication of diabetes:
- Diabetic retinopathy can cause damage to the retina’s blood vessels, resulting in blurred vision as well as in central and peripheral (side) vision loss. It’s the most common form of diabetic eye disease.
- Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens. Common symptoms include blurry vision, colors that seem faded, problems with glare from bright light, double vision or difficulty seeing well at night.
- Glaucoma leads to optic nerve damage, increased fluid pressure inside the eye and peripheral vision loss. Because glaucoma often strikes without warning signs, it’s called the “sneak thief of sight.”
If you have regular comprehensive dilated eye exams at Lighthouse Guild, we can find serious eye diseases like those related to diabetes before they advance and potentially affect your vision. Call 212-769-6313.
If you have diabetes and vision loss, Lighthouse Guild’s specialized ADA-certified program team of diabetes educators, nutritionists, endocrinologist and nurse practitioner can help you manage the disease. Call 212-769-6313.