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Don’t Be Silently Blinded

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A great many cases of blindness are preventable, simply, by undergoing regular eye and medical examinations. Damage to the retina, the tissue located in the back of eyes that is sensitive to light, allowing people to see, is the root cause of many cases of blindness. One disease is reported to be the leading cause of cases of new blindness in the United States.

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Entirely Preventable Condition

Diabetic retinopathy is the name of the condition that affects the eyes, caused by diabetes. Left untreated, diabetic retinopathy causes blindness. Individuals who have difficulty controlling blood-sugar levels are reported, by The Mayo Clinic, to be at most risk. Retinopathy is caused by blockages to the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retinal tissue with oxygen.

Perhaps amazingly, human eyes attempt to grow new routes for blood to follow, which tend to leak. Eyes will first attempt to grow new vessels before the original ones become completely blocked, characterizing the two stages of the disease, “early” and “advanced.”

Tragic Consequences If Left Untreated

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include blurred, fluctuating vision, impaired color judgment, the presence of “floaters” and dark patches in the field of view, and blindness. Any of these symptoms call for booking an appointment with a doctor or optometrist, who is equally qualified to spot the tell-tale signs of diabetes that are presented in their patients’ eyes.

Factors cited by The Mayo Clinic as putting one at higher risk for diabetes and retinopathy include an African-American, Native American, or Hispanic heritage, the length one has been afflicted, high cholesterol and blood pressure, tobacco use, and pregnancy, though it can affect anyone. People are living with diabetic retinopathy St. Louis-based, Los Angeles-based, and Brownsville-based, in huge numbers, today. Eating a healthy diet and living a healthy lifestyle can go a long way toward preventing diabetes from taking hold in the first place.

Apart from potentially going blind, diabetic retinopathy has the potential to cause retinas to become detached, glaucoma, and a vitreous hemorrhage. The most severe cases of vitreous hemorrhage are said to leave the eyes filled with blood, a result of leaking blood vessels.

Early Detection Saves Vision

Most doctors will recommend that patients with diabetes receive eye examinations on an annual basis, or more, beginning as soon as the diagnosis is first made. Further, pregnant women with diabetes are said to be encouraged to receive eye exams within the first three months of the pregnancy, where an eye professional will examine the blood vessels of the eye, looking for signs of new growth and leakage.

The eye doctor will perform a “dilated eye exam,” where drops are applied to the patient’s eyes that cause pupils to dilate, making it easier for them to examine the back of the retinal tissue. Once dilated, vision may become blurred for as long as “several hours.” So, asking a friend or family member to accompany a diabetic to an eye appointment for a dilated eye exam is likely a wise precaution.