Are You at Risk for Diabetic Eye Disease?

By Cheryl L. Dejewski
With diabetes at epidemic levels, chances are you know (or are) one of the 29+ million Americans with the disease. If so, be aware: Diabetes does more than affect blood sugar. Without proper precautions, it can rob a person of their sight.
“We want to give all diabetics a chance to protect their vision by educating them about the importance of early detection and treatment,” says Mark Freedman, MD, senior partner at Eye Care Specialists, a leading Milwaukee-area ophthalmology practice that specializes in the care of diabetic eye disease.
How diabetes affects vision
“With diabetes, fluctuating and high blood sugar levels can cause the blood vessels that nourish the retina in the back of the eye to become weak or abnormal. This leads to leakage and bleeding that can blur vision and permanently impair sight.” reports Brett Rhode, MD, Head of Ophthalmology at Aurora Sinai Medical Center and a partner at Eye Care Specialists, where he utilizes advanced medication injection and laser treatments. “All diabetics—type 1 or 2, insulin-dependent or not—are at risk for eye complications, which can appear as early as upon diagnosis and increases with the number of years you are diabetic. Up to 45% of diabetics have some degree of retinopathy (damage to the retina). And, if you are black or Latino, you have up to a three times greater risk of losing vision to diabetes than a white person.”
“Usually, there are no symptoms. Most people don’t notice a problem until retinopathy is so far advanced that lost vision can’t be restored. That’s why annual dilated eye exams are crucial. You should also call your doctor immediately if you notice vision changes in one or both eyes, numerous floating spots (like spider webs), or a veil over your vision, or if you are pregnant,” says Daniel Ferguson, MD, a leading area eye surgeon who conducts continuing education programs for local health care professionals…….
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Source: Milwaukee Courier Online