Blindness due to Diabetes Preventable

by Mark Benson on October 19, 2011

Vision impairment for diabetics preventable

One of the most debilitating complications arising from diabetes is blindness. When neglected, diabetes impairs the nerves of the eye. All this though, according to one expert is preventable.

The expert is Prof Hugh Taylor of the University of Melbourne. He is a Melbourne Laureate Professor and is current Chair of Indigenous Eye Health of the university. He said, “If attended to well in time, we can save 98 per cent of all blindness caused by diabetes. It is potentially preventable with timely laser treatment.”

He further added, ““Although not typically recognized as a killer disease, blindness does lead to increased mortality. Severe vision loss, and blindness, is one of the most disabling complications of diabetes. It is vital that regular eye examinations are an integral part of the health care of diabetics and that these processes are fully integrated into the health system.” He made these pronouncements during the first Symposium on Public Health and the Eye held in the LV Prasad Eye Institute at Hyderabad, India.

This conclusion was seconded by Prof. Mala Rao, Professor of International Health of the University of East London. She added that good quality universally accessible primary care was the means of maintaining good eye health across the population and reducing disability.

According to the latest statistics, nearly 285 million individuals are vision impaired globally, with nearly 40 million are blind.  In the United States alone, over 17 million suffer from some form of blindness resulting from diabetes. These individuals are between age 20 and 74. When blood glucose levels are not held in check, the fine blood vessels of the eye die off, leading to vision impairment.

There are many kinds of vision impairment as a result of diabetes. These include retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma. They first manifest some form of vision impairment due to diabetes as inability to focus, hazy or blurred vision and color blindness. The diabetic would also be unable to handle bright or glaring light and inability to focus under diminished lighting conditions or known as night blindness.

The first step to take is a standard ophthalmology examination. Because of the diabetes, the examination should include examination of the lens of the eye. The lens is affected by the blood sugar level fluctuations. Other tests would include a retinal dilation exam, to determine if the eye nerves are swelling and eye pressure testing to determine if glaucoma has set in.

When the vision is impaired, the difficulties associated with diabetes are increased tremendously. While simple corrective glasses may help in alleviating the condition, further neglect or mismanagement can only create further problems. Simple tasks, such as blood sugar checking may prove to be difficult. With this as the possible scenario, regular eye check ups should make vision impairment manageable for the diabetic.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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