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Diabetes: A Leading Cause of Blindness

Diabetes is the number one causal agent of impaired sight of adults between age twenty and seventy-four. In the past four years alone, over four million individuals in North America living with diabetes were found to have blindness caused by diabetes. Out of those tested, seventy thousand suffered from acute diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to a complete blindness.

While not everyone is at risk of diabetic retinopathy, it is good to understand the link between the disease and blindness.

Having a diagnosis of diabetes is the first risk factor. The best method to find out if you have diabetes related vision loss is to have your eye doctor test your vision regularly. The longer the affliction remains undiagnosed, the stronger the risk of diabetes related vision loss. Timely treatment is the key to halting further damage.

Women who are pregnant that are afflicted with gestational diabetes have a better likelihood of contracting diabetic retinopathy. It is advisable to undergo a comprehensive dilated eye examination after diagnosis as well.

You may ask yourself why all the concern? Wouldn't there be tell tale symptoms if you were going blind?

Well the truth is, not always. There are different kinds of diabetic retinopathy, and only those which are in the acute stages are obvious. Progressive diabetes might have no signs. Macular edema is another diabetes related disease which results in severe blindness. Both conditions can manifest with no noticeable signs. This is why early discovery is essential to saving yourself from long term injury.

A thorough examination will detect evidence of diabetic retinopathy. There are multiple stages to this exam which will reveal the typical symptoms, including leaky blood vessels, swelling of the retina, the presence of fatty deposits on the retina, and damaged nerve tissue. What is included in a complete eye exam?

The eye doctor will perform an examination of visual acuity by means of an eye chart which is used to check how well you can see at varying distances. This is identical to the visual acuity checks given by your optometrist, if you need corrective lenses.

In a dilated eye exam, the optometrist places drops in your eyes to widen your pupils. Though not a favorite of the faint of heart, it can save you blindness further down the road. This practice makes it easier to examine more of the inside of your eyes to look for unique clues that show the presence of diabetic retinopathy. The cursory discomfort could save your vision.

Take care of your sight. Even a little hesitation might cause irreversible damage. If you have been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it is essential to plan a vision test with an eye doctor without further delay.