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This Month is National Diabetes Month

Diabetes is the number one causal agent of impaired vision for adults between age twenty and seventy-four. Since 2008, over four million people in North America suffering from diabetes were diagnosed with diabetes related blindness. Out of those tested, 70,000 were afflicted with acute diabetic retinopathy, which, if left unmonitored, will lead to a complete vision loss.

The big question is, should everyone be tested for diabetic retinopathy?

To start, those diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at risk. Anyone in this category should ensure that they have an eye exam once a year. The longer the affliction goes unmonitored, the stronger the risk of diabetes related vision loss. Quick treatment is the key to halting further deterioration.

Women who are pregnant that are found to have gestational diabetes have a stronger possibility of developing diabetic retinopathy. It is advisable to schedule a complete dilated eye exam after diagnosis as well.

So why all the concern? Wouldn't it be obvious if you were losing your sight?

The truth is, not always. There are many forms of diabetic retinopathy, and only those which are in the acute phases are obvious. Advanced diabetes can have no symptoms. Macular edema is another diabetes related disease which results in serious sight loss. Both conditions can develop with no obvious signs. This is a reason that early detection is important to halting any long term deterioration.

A thorough examination will detect evidence of diabetic retinopathy. There are multiple steps to this exam which will reveal the typical clues, such as leaky blood vessels, swelling of the retina, the presence of fatty deposits on the retina, and damaged nerve tissue. Want to know what are the steps in a complete vision exam?

First of all you will undergo an examination of visual acuity by means of an eye chart which is used to determine how correctly you see at varying distances. This is similar to the visual acuity exams given by your optometrist, to see if you need glasses.

To give a dilated eye exam, the optometrist places drops in your eyes to enlarge the size of your pupils.  This method makes it easier to check more of the inside of your eyes to identify for unique symptoms that reveal the likelihood of diabetic retinopathy. The cursory discomfort may save your vision.

Regularly monitor your eye sight.  If you have been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it is crucial to book an eye test with an eye doctor every year.