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Are you aware that living with diabetes increases your chances of blindness? According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in individuals between 20 and 74. One of the risks of diabetes is retinal damage caused by excessive pressure in the blood vessels of the eye, which is called diabetic retinopathy. This condition causes severe vision impairment and even blindness. Anyone with the disease is at risk and it has affected over 3.7 million people in America since 2002. This number is expected to reach 11 million cases by 2030.

Diabetic retinopathy is often undetected until there has been significant vision loss. Vision loss occurs when the retinal blood vessels begin to leak into the retina. When it is not detected, blood vessels could be blocked or additional unwanted vessels may begin to grow on the retina leading to irreparable vision loss.

Warning signs of developing diabetic retinopathy include any kind of vision problems such as fluctuations, spots, shadows, double or blurred vision or pain. Cataracts and glaucoma are also more common in individuals with diabetes than in the average population.

With early detection and treatment, we can prevent loss of eyesight. In addition to making sure to schedule a comprehensive eye exam annually if you are diabetic, controlling your diabetes is essential to keeping your eyes healthy.

If you or a loved one has diabetes, make sure you are knowledgeable about the risks of diabetic eye disease and consult with your eye doctor if you have any questions. It could mean the difference between a life of sight and one of darkness.

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