Diabetes is the leading cause of new blindness and vision impairment in working age adults today. This is a tragic statistic. Diabetic retinopathy, the most common diabetic eye disease, occurs when blood vessels in the retina change. Sometimes these vessels become leaky, leaving deposits of debris and fluids or blood in places it shouldn't be. In other cases, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. These new vessels are very delicate and tend to hemorage easily. Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes. People who have diabetic retinopathy often don’t notice changes in their vision in the disease’s early stages. But as it progresses, diabetic retinopathy usually causes vision loss that in many cases cannot be reversed.
Regular and frequent examinations, as often as every 6 months, is best for staying on top of diabetic changes in the eyes. An annual exam with dilation is considered standard of care for diabetics. Probably your diabetic physician will inquire about if you have had a recent eye exam every time they see you in their office. This is because it is so critical to prevent loss of vision.