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Retinopathy and Diabetes

Have your eyes checked once a year. You could have eye problems that you haven't noticed yet. It is important to catch eye problems early when they can be treated. Treating eye problems early can help prevent blindness.

retinopathyHigh blood glucose can make the blood vessels in the eyes bleed. This bleeding can lead to blindness. You can help prevent eye damage by keeping your blood glucose as close to normal as possible. If your eyes are already damaged, an eye doctor may be able to save your sight with laser treatments or surgery.

The best way to prevent eye disease is to have a yearly eye exam. In this exam, the eye doctor puts drops in your eyes to make your pupils get bigger (dilate). When the pupils are big, the doctor can see into the back of the eye. This is called a dilated eye exam, and it doesn't hurt. If you've never had this kind of eye exam before, you should have one now, even if you haven't had any trouble with your eyes. Be sure to tell your eye doctor that you have diabetes.

Here are some tips for taking care of your eyes:

  • For people with type 1 diabetes: Have your eyes examined when you have had diabetes for 5 years and every year after that first exam. (Children should have an eye exam in their early teens.)
  • For people with type 2 diabetes: Have an eye exam every year.
  • For women planning to have a baby: Have an eye exam before becoming pregnant.
  • If you smoke, quit.
  • Keep your blood glucose and blood pressure as close to normal as possible.

Tell your eye doctor right away if you have any problems like blurry vision or seeing dark spots, flashing lights, or rings around lights.

Vision Problems and blindness can occur when high blood sugar damages the tiny blood vessels in your eyes.

What you can do? Have an eye exam every year. Be sure your doctor uses eye drops to dilate you pupils so they can see the back of your eyes. Try to keep your blood sugar and blood pressure in your target range. Eye disease can be slowed or stopped if found early enough. Only a doctor can detect changes in your eyes' blood vessels in the early stages. Early treatment of eye problems can help save your sight.