There are many myths surrounding diabetes, and it can be hard to determine what is true and what is not. Many patients want to know if diabetes will really make them go blind. The fact is that the disease can certainly cause blindness, and is one of the top causes of blindness among adults. Equally important, however, is the realization that proper testing and eye care can often prevent the condition from occurring.
The vision problem that causes blindness in diabetics is also known as retinopathy. Retinopathy is damage to the eye due to blood flow problems. It causes decreased vision and when left untreated leads to blindness.
When your blood sugar is not well controlled, the blood vessels in the eye become weak. This leaks fluid into the part of the eye responsible for vision. Eventually the blood vessels close off, stopping blood flow to the retina. As the disease progresses, new blood vessels form. These vessels are quite fragile and bleed into the eyes causing severe vision problems and blindness.
Retinopathy occurs in approximately eight percent of patients in the first three years, with statistics rising to one quarter after five years and jumping to eighty percent after approximately fifteen years of being diagnosed with diabetes of any form. These percentages are quite large, but they do not mean that the same percentage of patients will go blind. They point instead to the reasons you should be tested annually for the problem.
When you have your vision checked annually, your eye doctor will be able to catch retinopathy in the early stages. In this stage, the condition is easily treatable. Controlling your blood sugar can also prevent the condition or help delay the onset and progression. It is very important to contact your eye doctor if you experience any vision changes including blurriness or trouble seeing clearly.
Blindness is still considered a side effect of diabetes even though it is preventable. Many patients do not have their vision tested often enough or fail to report symptoms. When you are diagnosed with diabetes, it becomes imperative that you have annual vision tests. When retinopathy is diagnosed early, it can be treated before symptoms become permanent and severe. Your vision is very important to your quality of life. If you are experiencing blurred vision or have not recently had your vision tested, seeking an eye exam is one of the best things you can do for yourself.