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Home » News » Diabetic Retinopathy: A Leading Cause of Blindness

Diabetic Retinopathy: A Leading Cause of Blindness


We all know why we need to wear sunglasses and sunscreen in the summer. Winter, however, can be deceiving. It's an illusion to assume that we are safe from sunburns during the colder season.

Snow acts as a powerful mirror for sunlight and magnifies the effects of UV rays which would otherwise be absorbed by the ground. As a result, the eyes are exposed to both the UV radiation bouncing back from the snowy carpet and the rays shining down directly from the sun.

If your family is skiing or snowboarding up in the mountains, you need to be even more careful! UV rays are more powerful at higher altitudes. Another important factor to remember is that ultraviolet radiation penetrates through clouds, so even if the sun is hidden behind them, it can still damage your eyes.

Prevent overexposure to sunlight by wearing sunglasses that absorb at least 95% of ultraviolet radiation when you go outside, no matter what time of year it is. Even though you want to look great in your shades, the most important part of choosing sunglasses is making sure they provide adequate protection against UV. Make sure the lenses are 100% UV blocking by looking for an indication that they block all light up to 400 nanometers - UV400. The good news is you don't necessarily have to pay more for full coverage for your eyes. Dozens of reasonably priced options exist that still provide total ultraviolet protection.

Another important factor in selecting sun wear is the size of the lenses. You want to make sure your glasses cover as much of the area around your eyes as possible. The more coverage you have, the less harmful radiation will be able to penetrate. Lenses that wrap around the temples will also prevent UV waves from entering from the sides.

If you like to ski or frolic in the snowy hills, you should be aware that the sun's rays are stronger at higher elevations, so you need to be especially careful to keep your eyes shaded on the slopes. In addition to sunglasses, it's a good idea to put on a wide brimmed hat that covers your eyes.

Make a point to be knowledgeable about proper eye protection throughout the year. Don't forget to wear your sunglasses.

Diabetes is the dominant precursor to blindness for men and women between age twenty and seventy-four. In just the last four years, over 4 million adults in North America living with diabetes were found to have diabetic retinopathy. Of this group, 70,000 suffered from advanced diabetic retinopathy, which, if left unmonitored, could lead to total vision loss.

While not everyone is at risk of diabetes related vision loss, it is good to know the connection between the disease and vision loss.

An existing diagnosis of diabetes is the first risk factor. The best way to find out if you have vision loss caused by diabetes is to have your optometrist test your vision once a year. The longer the affliction remains unchecked, the stronger the risk of diabetes related blindness. Speedy treatment is the key to preventing further loss.

Women who are expecting that have been found to have gestational diabetes have a better likelihood of developing diabetic retinopathy. It is advisable to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam after diagnosis as well.

You may wonder why all the panic? Won't there be tell tale symptoms of sight deterioration?

Well the answer is, shockingly, not always. There are many kinds of diabetic retinopathy, and only those which are in the severe stages are obvious. Progressive diabetes can have no signs. Macular edema is another diabetes related disease which results in serious sight loss. Both conditions can develop without noticeable signs. This is a reason that early detection is critical to stopping any irreversible deterioration.

A complete examination will seek out precursors of diabetic retinopathy. There are multiple steps to this exam which will expose the typical clues, including damaged nerve tissue, swelling of the retina, and leaky blood vessels. What is included in a complete vision exam?

The eye doctor will perform a visual acuity exam by means of an eye chart which is used to determine how well you are able to see at varying distances. This is similar to the visual acuity examinations given by your eye doctor, if you require glasses.

While giving a dilated eye exam, the optometrist puts drops in your eyes to dilate your pupils. Although it is not a favorite of most people, this test can save you loss of vision in 10-15 years. This procedure makes it easier to check a larger part of the interior portion of your eyes to identify for specific signs that reveal the likelihood of diabetic retinopathy. The momentary discomfort could save your ability to see.

Take care of your sight. Even a little hesitation might cause severe loss. If you are diabetic, it is necessary to plan an eye examination with your eye doctor once a year without fail.