Nearly 23 million Americans are affected by diabetes, and of these people, nearly one-third, or almost 6 million, are unaware that they have the disease. Undiagnosed, diabetes can result in vision impairment, a frequent complication of both Type -1 and Type-2 diabetes, and blindness.

Diabetic retinopathy, a diabetes-related eye disease, is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults 20-74 years old. Other vision problems caused by diabetes include vision changes, glaucoma, and cataracts.

“Through a comprehensive dilated eye exam, doctors of optometry can look inside the eye and examine blood vessels directly, detecting signs of retinopathy,” said Dr. Stacy Presley of Advanced Eye Care Associates.

Diabetic retinopathy damages delicate blood vessels inside the eye, causing them to leak, bleed and become blocked. Many patients with diabetic retinopathy are asymptomatic. Symptoms may include:

• Fluctuating or blurred vision

• Occasional double vision

• Night Vision problems

• Flashes and floaters seen by one or both eyes

Early detection is important. Equally important is monitoring and maintaining control of diabetes, including adherence to your doctor’s instructions on diet, exercise and medication.

An optometrist is an important member of the diabetes health care team. Part of living with diabetes and successful eye care is having a dilated eye examination on at least an annual basis — more often for those people with existing eye issues or more serious retinopathy. Anyone experiencing changes in vision should immediately see an optometrist.

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