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Diabetic Retinopathy: A Leading Cause of Blindness

Are you aware that diabetes is the chief causal agent of blindness of men and women aged 20-74 years? If not, you are not alone. In just the last four years, over 4 million individuals in North America afflicted with diabetes were found to have diabetic retinopathy. Of this group, 70,000 suffered from acute diabetic retinopathy, which can result in a complete blindness.

The million dollar question is, should everyone get examined for diabetic retinopathy?

Having a diagnosis of diabetes is the first risk factor. Anyone in this category should ensure that they have an eye exam yearly. The longer the affliction goes unchecked, the greater the danger of diabetes related blindness. Quick treatment will go a long way in preventing further deterioration.

Expectant mothers that have been afflicted with gestational diabetes have a better likelihood of contracting diabetic retinopathy. It is advisable to undergo a complete dilated eye examination after diagnosis as well.

You may ask yourself why all the worry? Won't there be symptoms of blindness?

The truth is, not always. There are different kinds of diabetic retinopathy, and only those in the severe phases are easy to discern. Proliferative diabetes may have no signs. Macular edema is another diabetes caused disease which results in severe sight loss. Both afflictions may develop without noticeable signs. This is why early discovery is essential to saving yourself from permanent loss.

An extensive assessment will discern evidence of diabetic retinopathy. There are various parts to this exam which will reveal the standard indicators, such as damaged nerve tissue, swelling of the retina, and leaky blood vessels. What is included in a comprehensive eye exam?

The eye doctor will perform a visual acuity test by means of an eye chart that is used to assess how correctly you can see at different distances. This is the same as the visual acuity checks given by your optometrist, to see if you need glasses.

While giving a dilated eye exam, the eye doctor puts drops in your eyes to exaggerate the size of your pupils. Not a favorite of most patients, but it can prevent blindness later on. This measure makes it easier to see a larger part of the interior portion of your eyes to look for distinct clues that indicate the presence of diabetic retinopathy. The short discomfort will probably save your eye sight.

Regularly monitor your sight, even a little hesitation can cause irreparable damage. If you are diabetic, it is crucial to plan a vision test with your optometrist as soon as possible.