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Home » What's New » Diabetic Retinopathy: A Leading Cause of Blindness

Diabetic Retinopathy: A Leading Cause of Blindness


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.

Children’s Vision Center