is Diabetic Eye Disease?
Diabetes can cause damage
to several different parts of the eye: the cornea, the lens,
the nerves responsible for controlling eye muscles, the optic
nerve and the retina. When thinking about the 'eye complications'
of diabetes, most people, including most health care professionals,
think of diabetic retinopathy, the process through which
the eye's light sensitive retina is damaged by chronic hyperglycemia
(high blood sugar). Indeed, diabetic retinopathy is arguably
the most important example of diabetic eye disease, as it accounts
for 12,000 to 24,000 cases of legal blindness each year in the
United States, and more than 200,000 cases annually Worldwide.
However, diabetic retinopathy, which has several different
forms and stages, is itself only one of several completely distinct
types of 'diabetic eye disease.'
In fact, there are
seven different diabetic eye diseases: diabetic cataract;
glaucoma; diabetic keratopathy; diabetic optic neuropathy; diabetic
cranial neuropathy; diabetic retinopathy; and retinal vascular
occlusion. Each affects a different part of the eye, from the
nerves that control eye movement to the nerve that connects the
eye to the brain, from the front surface of the eye to its innermost
The key to preventing and minimizing diabetic eye disease is patient
education. The more you know about diabetes and its complications,
the better able you will be to lower your risk and live a productive
life even in spite of complications.
Patients live with diabetes, and must control it through their
own actions, every minute of every day. It makes absolute sense
that patients be empowered to take control of their diabetes through
medical education, understanding and encouragement. And so I have
written this book in hope that my
experiences, both as a long time diabetic and an eye doctor passionately
interested in diabetes, may help you or someone you love to positively
transform the way you manage diabetes.
- Diabetic retinopathy blinds between 12,000
to 24,000 Americans each year.
- Diabetics are 2 to 4 times more likely
to develop glaucoma, a potentially blinding eye disease.
- Diabetics tend to develop cataracts at
an earlier age.
- Diabetic retinopathy usually causes no
symptoms at its earliest, most treatable stages.
- Lowering your HbA1c levels by 10% (e.g.
from 8% to 7.2%) reduces you risk of worsening retinopathy by
- Tight blood pressure control is crucial
in lowering the risk of diabetic eye disease.
- 90% of all blindness due to diabetes is
preventable with regular, dilated eye exams.
- Fluctuating blood sugar levels can cause
wide fluctuations in a person's eyeglass prescription.
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