The Disease That Almost Half Of Diabetics Have

diabetic-woman-checking-blood-sugarAll people with diabetes–both type 1 and type 2–are at risk for diabetic retinopathy, which is why everyone with diabetes should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year.

The longer someone has diabetes, the more likely he or she will get diabetic retinopathy.

Between 40 to 45 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some stage of diabetic retinopathy. If you have diabetic retinopathy, your doctor can recommend treatment to help prevent its progression.

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Blood vessels damaged from diabetic retinopathy can cause vision loss in two ways:

  • Fragile, abnormal blood vessels can develop and leak blood into the center of the eye, blurring vision. This is proliferative retinopathy and is the fourth and most advanced stage of the disease.
  • Fluid can leak into the center of the macula, the part of the eye where sharp, straight-ahead vision occurs. The fluid makes the macula swell, blurring vision. This condition is called macular edema. It can occur at any stage of diabetic retinopathy, although it is more likely to occur as the disease progresses. About half of the people with proliferative retinopathy also have macular edema.

It’s important to note that during pregnancy, diabetic retinopathy may also be a problem for women with diabetes. To protect vision, every pregnant woman with diabetes should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam as soon as possible. Your doctor may recommend additional exams during your pregnancy.