LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- November is American Diabetes Month. According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. If you or someone you love is battling this disease it's important to remember that diabetes also brings with it a higher risk of developing certain eye diseases.
Dr. Lydia Lane, with Little Rock Eye Clinic, talks with Ashley, Alyse, and Tom to explain the risks and what you should do.
What are some of the eye diseases people with diabetes face?
If you have diabetes, you are at a high risk of developing diabetic retinopathy which can ultimately lead to irreversible vision loss. This is the result of too much glucose traveling in the blood stream that can cause the small blood vessels in the eyes to swell, leak or even close completely. In addition, diabetes can also increase your risk for glaucoma and retinal detachment.
You recommend an eye exam as soon as you're diagnosed with diabetes. What does this entail and what is it screening for?
Because there are generally no early symptoms to warn of impending eye issues, the standard test is a comprehensive dilated eye exam. It's completely painless. Your doctor simply puts drops in your eyes to widen, or dilate, the pupil. This the only way he or she can get a good look at the retina and optic nerve to look for signs of disease.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people with Type 1 Diabetes be examined within five years of being diagnosed and for Type 2 at the time of diagnoses. Then we recommend annual exams after that.
What are some other things people with diabetes should do to help reduce their risk of blindness?
Controlling your blood sugar is probably the first thing a doctor tells you when you are diagnosed with diabetes. In terms of your eye sight, this is very important because when your blood sugar is too high it can result in blurry vision and, again, damage to the blood vessels in your eyes.
You should also quit smoking. The risk for diabetic retinopathy and other eye diseases is even higher when you smoke.