Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in Canada and the US. An annual dilated eye exam can detect and help reduce vision problems.
Although November is almost over, it’s never too late to increase our awareness about diabetes. More than 9 million Canadians have diabetes or prediabetes. In the United States, 25.8 million people have diabetes and an additional 79 million people have prediabetes.
Diabetes affects much more than blood sugar levels. The US National Eye Institute is focusing awareness this November on the effect diabetes has on eye health.
In Canada and the US, a condition called diabetic retinopathy (which involves damage to the retina of the eye) is the leading cause of blindness in 20 to 74 year olds. There may be no symptoms in the early stages of retinopathy, but symptoms can include:
- blurred vision
- sudden vision loss
- spots in vision
- flashes of light in the field of vision
But there’s one simple way to help prevent vision problems: an annual dilated eye exam.
\”Diabetic eye disease often has no early warning signs but can be detected early and treated before vision loss occurs,\” says Paul A. Sieving, MD, PhD, director of the National Eye Institute. \”Don\’t wait until you notice an eye problem to have a dilated eye exam, because vision that is lost often cannot be restored.\”
Early detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up can reduce the vision problems associated with diabetes.
If you have diabetes, following these steps can help keep your diabetes under control:
- maintain a healthy weight
- be physically active every day
- follow your health care practitioner’s advice to keep your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels under control
- quit smoking
To learn more about diabetic eye disease, visit the Canadian Diabetes Association.
In the US, visit the National Eye Institute.