By Deborah Mitchell

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that can sneak up on you without warning. You can literally be blindsided by this complication of diabetes—significant or complete loss of vision can result–yet a little knowledge and action can help prevent you from falling victim to the condition.
Diabetic retinopathy is sneaky
Diabetic retinopathy is a vision-threatening complication of diabetes that causes progressive damage to the blood vessels that nourish the retina. As these vessels leak blood and other fluids, the retinal tissue swells and affects your vision.
The longer you have diabetes, the greater your risk of developing this eye disease. Some diabetics manage to avoid this eye condition, however, although experts have not yet determined why this is true.
Diabetic retinopathy can be sneaky, as early stages of the disease often can occur without symptoms. When symptoms do present themselves, they can include blurry vision, difficulty seeing at night, seeing spots in your vision, and having an empty spot in the center of your vision.
Diabetic retinopathy is common
Diabetic eye disease is all too common among people who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. In fact, a new study published in JAMA Ophthalmology reported that slightly more than 20 percent of patients screened via telemedicine were found to have the eye disease.
The participants included mainly ethnic and racial minority populations and uninsured individuals with diabetes. Among these individuals, only about one third to one half received annual eye care.
The study’s authors stressed that if these populations can be reached using an inexpensive screening technique such as telemedicine, it would be possible to identify diabetic retinopathy early so it could be managed. Cynthia Owsley, PhD, professor in the University of Alabama, Birmingham Department of Ophthalmology and the lead author of the study, noted that telemedicine is “cost-effective and expands the reach of screenings by accessing regions that may be experiencing a shortage of ophthalmologists and optometrists.”
An older study (2010), also appearing in JAMA, reported on the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy among US adults aged 40 and older. That study found the prevalence to be 28.5 percent overall, with the disease being more common among men than women (31.6% vs 25.7% average). Blacks had a higher prevalence than non-Hispanic whites (38.8% vs 26.4%, respectively).
Meeting diabetic retinopathy head on
To help prevent and manage diabetic retinopathy, the most important things you can do are:

  • Keep your glucose levels under control with diet and exercise (and drugs as needed)
  • Monitor your blood glucose levels regularly
  • Undergo a comprehensive dilated eye exam once a year
  • Keep your blood pressure in check
  • Don’t smoke
  • Consider natural remedies such as pycnogenol, bilberry, magnesium, and green tea

 These steps could prevent the eye disease or effectively hinder progression……….
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Source: Emax Health