Over the past forty years, diabetes incidence rates have increased dramatically in the U.S., affecting more than 29 million Americans. Patients with diabetes are at risk of diabetic eye disease, many times leading to vision impairment or blindness. In fact, individuals with untreated diabetes are 25 times more likely to lose their sight than the general population. As the number one cause of preventable blindness in the United States, it is important for patients with diabetes to have a routine comprehensive dilated eye exam every year.
MyEyeDr. also encourages individuals with an increased risk of diabetes to schedule an annual eye exam. Of those currently suffering from diabetes, more than 7 million are unaware of their diagnosis. Another 84 million have prediabetes (an indication that type 2 diabetes can develop without lifestyle changes). While routine bloodwork can provide a clear conclusion, many may not realize an annual eye exam can also prove useful in early detection. Since diabetes can affect the blood vessels in the back of the eye, photographing the retina is one of the best tools for doctors to monitor patients’ ocular health and may help to diagnose issues affecting their overall systemic health.
In alignment with Diabetic Eye Disease Month, MyEyeDr. is sharing information on this group of eye conditions that can be diagnosed by an optometrist in diabetic and non-diabetic patients, including:
Diabetic Retinopathy—caused by damage to tiny blood vessels in the retina which begin to bleed or leak fluid. If left unchecked, diabetic retinopathy can progress in severity—leading to the formation of new, fragile blood vessels growing along the inside surface of the retina. These delicate vessels are easily broken. The resulting scar tissue and other changes can shrink and contract causing retinal detachment and potential permanent vision loss.
Diabetic Macular Edema—characterized by leaking blood vessels close to the most visually sensitive part of the eye (the macula) and typically happens in conjunction with diabetic retinopathy. Untreated macular edema can greatly affect a patient's quality of life by interfering with regular daily activities like reading.
Cataracts—affect more than 22 million Americans and are caused by clouding of the lens, blocking or changing the passage of light in the eye and making vision blurry.
Glaucoma—often referred to as the “silent thief of sight,” glaucoma is the result of damage to the optic nerve due to intra-ocular pressure. Because the disease is often asymptomatic, a delayed diagnosis can lead to irreparable harm, loss of vision, or even blindness in extreme cases. See first-hand how cataracts and glaucoma can impact your vision with this online tool.
“According to the CDC, one in three Americans will have diabetes by 2050,” said Dr. Artis Beatty, chief medical officer at MyEyeDr. “Maintaining control of blood sugar through diet, exercise and medication, scheduling an annual eye exam, and encouraging your loved ones to visit the optometrist are just a few ways to protect your vision and your ocular health.”
Utilizing the newest technology, proven techniques and eye doctors who are experienced in their field to partner with a patient’s primary care physician for overall diabetes disease management, MyEyeDr. urges you and your family members to be proactive about eye health and schedule an annual eye exam. Outside of early detection, MyEyeDr. works closely with individuals living with diabetes to identify and treat diabetic eye disease early in order to prevent future complications.