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5 Noteworthy Statistics About Diabetes and Your Vision


Diabetes is a pervasive condition that affects millions of people worldwide, and its impact extends far beyond blood sugar levels. One of the critical areas affected by diabetes is vision. Understanding the relationship between diabetes and vision health can help raise awareness and encourage proactive eye care. Here are five compelling statistics about diabetes and your vision.

Diabetic Retinopathy is the Leading Cause of Blindness in Working-Age Adults

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among adults aged 20 to 74. This condition occurs in about one-third of people with diabetes over the age of 40 in the United States. Diabetic retinopathy damages the blood vessels in the retina, leading to vision impairment and blindness if not detected and treated early.

Early Detection and Treatment Can Reduce the Risk of Severe Vision Loss by 95%

The United States National Eye Institute (NEI) reports that early detection and timely treatment of diabetic retinopathy can prevent severe vision loss in 95% of cases. Regular comprehensive eye exams are crucial for catching the early signs of diabetic retinopathy and other diabetes-related eye conditions, allowing for prompt intervention and preservation of vision.

People with Diabetes are Twice as Likely to Develop Glaucoma

Research from the American Diabetes Association shows that individuals with diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma compared to those without diabetes. Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, often due to increased pressure in the eye. Regular eye exams are essential for detecting glaucoma early and preventing significant vision loss.

Cataracts are 60% More Common in People with Diabetes

The risk of developing cataracts is significantly higher in people with diabetes. According to the American Optometric Association, people with diabetes are 60% more likely to develop cataracts, and they tend to develop them at a younger age. Cataracts cause the lens of the eye to become cloudy, leading to blurry vision and, if untreated, eventual blindnes

Up to 21% of People with Diabetes Experience Diabetic Macular Edema

Diabetic macular edema (DME) is a complication of diabetic retinopathy that affects the macula, the central part of the retina responsible for detailed vision. According to the National Eye Institute, up to 21% of people with diabetes may develop DME. This condition can cause significant vision loss and requires timely treatment to prevent further damage.

Protecting Your Vision

These statistics highlight the importance of proactive eye care for individuals with diabetes. Here are some steps to help protect your vision:
  • Regular Eye Exams: Schedule comprehensive eye exams and diabetic eye exams at least once a year to detect any early signs of diabetic eye disease.
  • Manage Blood Sugar Levels: Keeping your blood sugar levels within the target range can reduce the risk of developing diabetes-related eye conditions.
  • Healthy Lifestyle: Maintain a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking to support overall eye health.
  • Monitor Symptoms: Be vigilant about any changes in your vision, such as blurriness, floaters, or double vision, and seek medical attention promptly.
By understanding the risks and taking proactive steps, you can protect your vision and maintain a high quality of life despite having diabetes. Regular check-ups and effective management of your diabetes are key to preserving your eyesight for years to come.

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The Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (ACHIP) covers the cost of an annual diabetic eye health exam.

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for Diabetic Retinopathy. However, there are treatments available that can help manage the condition and prevent further vision loss.