Diabetes not only affects how your body processes insulin, but it can also lead to a variety of other medical problems, particularly in the lower extremities and the eyes.
Unfortunately, diabetes is different in each person in how it affects their health and wellness. Even with the proper diabetic supplies and care, complications can arise that lead to additional issues that need to be dealt with.
For example, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Ophthalmology, less than 50 percent of men and women with diabetes-related eye disease have been made aware, so they're missing opportunities to receive sight-saving treatment.
Researchers learned through a nationwide survey of adults that less than half of those with diabetic macular edema, which can lead to blindness, knew they were affected because their doctor had told them. Additionally, almost 30 percent of respondents had already lost vision in their affected eye.
Diabetics need to take extra care with their vision
Study leader Dr. Neil Bressler, Wilmer Eye Institute of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in Reuters that it's crucial to catch the signs of diabetic macular edema because it's a treatable condition. One sign is a thickening of the retina, which can be detected through an eye exam that includes pupil dilation. If left untreated, it can ultimately lead to blindness. Diabetic macular edema can also cause degeneration of the retina, also known as diabetic retinopathy, is a leading cause of blindness in the U.S.
While many diabetics often get annual eye exams as part of their treatment plan, they don't always get the correct type of frequency of care needed to find issues.
Bressler and his team looked at questionnaires and physical exams for 800 people. Of these, the physical exams noted the 238 were suffering from diabetic retinopathy with diabetic macular edema and 48 with it. While 60 percent of the patients had diabetic macular edema and underwent pupil dilation during an eye exam, only 45 percent were told by a doctor about the condition.
"This study is very important as it shows that many diabetics are not aware of potential or actual real risk to their eyesight from diabetic retinopathy," Dr. Lee Jampol, professor of ophthalmology who studies diabetes and vision at Northwestern University, told Reuters.
He added that doctors and patients need to be made more aware of vision risks associated with diabetes and schedule at least yearly visits to the ophthalmologist.