Keeping an eye on your vision health

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Save your vision: The American Diabetes Association recommends that diabetics get an annual dilated eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist because early detection and treatment can save vision. | File photo

Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the eye, potentially leading to blindness. While those with diabetes are at an increased risk of vision problems, most people with diabetes have no or only minor eye disorders.

Eye disorders include:

1. Retinopathy

Also known as damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eye, is more common if you have had diabetes for a long time, or if your blood glucose or blood pressure haven’t been under good control.

2. Glaucoma

Occurs when pressure builds up in the eye. Vision is gradually lost because the retina and nerve are damaged. People with diabetes are 40 percent more likely to suffer from glaucoma than people without diabetes. The longer someone has had diabetes, the more common glaucoma is. Risk also increases with age. There are several treatments for glaucoma, including drugs that reduce pressure in the eye as well as surgical options.

3. Cataracts

People with diabetes are 60 percent more likely to develop cataracts. People with diabetes also tend to get cataracts at a younger age and have them progress faster. With cataracts, the eye clouds, blocking out light. To help prevent and deal with mild cataracts, wear sunglasses outside and use glare-control lenses in your glasses.

Don’t forget to get an annual dilated eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Many eye problems are silent until they are advanced, but early detection and treatment truly saves vision.

— The Diabetes Association, www.diabetes.org