Managing diabetes can be overwhelming. Between remembering to take your medications every day and carefully watching your diet and blood sugar levels, it can be hard to feel like you’re in control of your disease and not the other way around. And even when you think you’re on top of it all, there are other complications of diabetes that can be forgotten or placed on the back burner, such as eye disease.
Estimates show that one in ten U.S. adults with diabetes have some form of visual impairment. For example, uncontrolled blood sugar levels can cause damage to blood vessels in the macula, a region of the retina located at the back of the eye. This area is important for the sharp, straight-ahead vision we need to read, recognize faces, and even drive our cars. These blood vessels can leak fluid and swell, resulting in diabetic macular edema (DME), an eye disease that has the potential to cause severe vision loss and even blindness. Common symptoms of DME include the appearance of blurry or wavy vision, and can happen at any stage of diabetes.
Rosa lived with diabetes for 30 years before she was diagnosed with DME.
“The vision in my right eye had been blurry, and it was making it harder to do the word search puzzles I enjoy. I knew I had to do something before my vision got worse, so I made an appointment with a retina specialist, who gave me a dilated eye exam. I was surprised when he told me that I had blood and fluid in my eye and diagnosed me with DME.”
The good news is early detection and treatment of DME may help protect your eyes against vision loss. Rosa now encourages others to visit their eye doctor regularly.
“Seeing is important-you only have two eyes so you have to watch them, especially if you have diabetes. That’s why I have a dilated eye exam every six months. If something’s not right, I want to know about it as soon as possible so that I can do something about it.”
This Diabetes Awareness Month, put your eyes first and schedule a visit with your eye doctor for a yearly dilated eye exam. For more information on DME and how to help protect against vision loss visit <www.DiabetesSightRisk.com>.
*Rosa was compensated for her participation in the Regeneron DME Patient EYE Ambassador Program.
**Disease information was sourced from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Correctable Visual Impairment Among Persons with Diabetes) and the National Eye Institute (Facts About Diabetic Eye Disease).