Don’t lose sight of diabetes

Your vision can be damaged or lost without treatment.

There are about 29 million people who have diabetes in the U.S. today. If your doctor has told you that you have diabetes, you’re one of the 21 million who know. That leaves about 8 million people who have no idea they have it. Diabetes affects your body’s ability to use blood sugar or glucose. The most common form of diabetes is type 2, where the body does not properly use insulin, a hormone that helps the body use blood sugar for energy. This is called insulin resistance. At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time it isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood sugar at normal levels.

Having diabetes puts you at risk for serious eye problems — all of which lead to poor vision and, for some, even blindness. Here are some eye conditions made worse by diabetes:

Retinopathy. The retina is the layer at the back of the eye containing cells

that are sensitive to light.

Cataracts. A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which lies

behind the iris and pupil.

Glaucoma. This is pressure in the eye, which causes harm to the optic

nerve. Glaucoma impacts light perception.

Light sensitivity. People with diabetes are more sensitive to the sun than people who don’t have it. This is because the drugs taken by people who have diabetes, such as those for high blood pressure, increase light sensitivity.

People with diabetes need yearly eye exams. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, taking the right medicine, watching your blood sugar levels, eating healthy and exercising can help you control it. It’s also important to get yearly eye exams, which includes dilation.

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