Complications from diabetes can impact many organs and systems of the body. Common diabetic-related conditions include heart disease, nerve damage, stroke, kidney disease and vision loss. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness among working-age Americans. It’s also a major risk factor for developing glaucoma and cataracts.
Who’s at risk for diabetic eye disease?
All people with diabetes are susceptible to vision loss and blindness from diabetic eye disease. But according to the National Eye Health Education Program, the following groups have a higher risk:
- African Americans
- American Indians and Alaska Natives
- Older adults with diabetes
What is diabetic eye disease?
Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye conditions that can affect people with diabetes. All forms of diabetic eye disease have the potential to cause severe vision loss and blindness. They include:
- Diabetic retinopathy – Chronically high blood sugar from diabetes is linked to damage to the tiny blood vessels in the retina, leading to diabetic retinopathy. The condition can cause retinal blood vessels to leak fluid or hemorrhage (bleed), which distorts vision. In its most advanced stage, new abnormal blood vessels on the surface of the retina increase in number, which can lead to scarring and cell loss.
- Diabetic macular edema (DME) – A consequence of diabetic retinopathy, DME is characterized by swelling in the part of the retina called the macula.
- Cataract – Adults with diabetes are up to five times more likely than those without diabetes to develop a cataract, which is a clouding of the eye’s lens. A cataract tends to develop at an earlier age in people with diabetes.
- Glaucoma – This group of diseases damages the eye’s optic nerve (the bundle of nerve fibers that connects the eye to the brain). Some types of glaucoma are associated with elevated pressure inside the eye. In adults with diabetes, the risk of glaucoma nearly doubles.
Advanced care for your eyes in Western Washington
Since 1989, Evergreen Eye Center has offered state-of-the-art eye care to help people experience optimal eye health and maintain healthy eyes for life. Our team of highly trained, caring physicians is ready to meet all your eye health needs — from routine exams to highly specialized treatment and surgery.
Evergreen Eye Center was the first in Washington to offer bladeless cataract surgical procedures using LenSx® laser technology. The procedure allows the doctors to precisely plan and perform cataract surgery to customized specifications for the best possible outcomes.
To learn more or schedule an appointment at one of our four locations in Western Washington, call 800-250-7978 or click here to use our online form.