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Diabetic Eye Disease is a Worldwide Concern

Diabetes is a condition that increases your risk for many different health problems. Diabetics often develop skin complications, foot complications, kidney disease, hypertension, stroke, neuropathy, heart disease, and eye disease.

If you have diabetes, you are prone to develop diabetic retinopathy, a condition in which the delicate blood vessels of the retina become damaged and start leaking, resulting in distorted vision. It is important to diagnose diabetic retinopathy in the early stages because it can cause retinal scarring, vision impairment and eventually blindness. November is Diabetic Eye Disease Month, a time to increase awareness of diabetic retinopathy and other diabetic-related eye complications.

A recent study was published in Diabetes Care by researchers across the globe.The study examined regions of the world over the past 20 years with the highest number of people who were visually impaired by diabetic retinopathy: South Asia, Middle East & North Africa, and West Sub-Saharan Africa.
Over the past two decades, blindness and visual impairment because of diabetic retinopathy increased significantly. In 2010, one in every 39 blind people was blind due to diabetic retinopathy, which increased 27 percent since 1990. Of those with moderate or severe vision impairment, one in 52 people had diabetic-related vision loss, a stunning increase of 64 percent since 1990.

The authors of the study compiled a report that included some specific recommendations for how to decrease diabetic retinopathy incidence and prevent vision loss. Some ideas include:

  • Improving control of glucose levels and blood pressure among diabetics
  • Increasing education about diabetic retinopathy and related vision loss
  • Developing cost-effective strategies for screening
  • Prevention and treatment of diabetic retinopathy through laser treatments, steroid injections and other drugs

If you have diabetes, it is important to have annual comprehensive eye exams for optimum eye health. Your ophthalmologist will perform various tests to evaluate the health of your retina and examine the blood vessels inside your eyes. Early diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy means early treatment and, best of all, preserved vision (Source: Medical Express).