African American woman making heart symbol with her hands in front of her eyes

November is National Diabetes Month, a time of year when our Wider Circle communities come together in-person and virtually to talk about important steps for diabetes prevention and management, including lifestyle changes and screenings. Most of us associate diabetes with blood sugar levels, weight gain, and family history. But there’s a lesser known aspect of diabetes: your vision. Did you know that diabetes is the leading cause of vision loss for adults? The good news is routine eye exams can prevent most vision loss caused by diabetes (American Diabetes Association).

Why it matters
Diabetes can damage the small blood vessels in your retina – the back wall of your eyeball – a condition known as diabetic retinopathy. 

Diabetes also increases your risk of glaucoma and other eye-related problems. You may not know your eyes are harmed until the onset of blurred vision or other issues, at which point the damage could be significant. 

Your eye doctor can catch problems early if you receive regular eye exams. The early stages of diabetic retinopathy (damage to the blood vessels in the retina) don’t cause changes in vision and you won’t have symptoms. Only an eye exam can detect the problem, so that steps can be taken to prevent the retinopathy from advancing.

What you can do
Schedule your diabetes eye exam. Speak with your primary care physician if you need an optometrist referral. An optometrist has the proper equipment to check the back of your eye more thoroughly than your primary care physician. If you have eye problems because of diabetes, you will probably see your eye doctor more often. You may need special treatment to prevent symptoms from worsening. 

Fortunately, your diabetic retinal exam is covered by most insurance plans. It’s also very important to schedule your appointment before the end of the holidays. Many folks tend to procrastinate and try to make their eye appointments at year end when optometrists and ophthalmologists have fewer openings. 

If you found this article eye-opening, please share with your friends and loved ones. Together, we can help reverse the trend of the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.

The information included in this blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.

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About the author: Brian Christina

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