If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor has probably emphasized the importance of regular eye exams. Diabetics are at an increased risk for a condition called retinopathy, in which the blood vessels in the light-sensitive tissues of the eye become damaged. Unfortunately, a lot of patients fail to take their doctors' recommendations seriously and skip their regular eye exams. Early-stage retinopathy shows few symptoms, so really the only way to know if you're developing it is to visit your eye doctor.
If you're not quite convinced to make that eye exam appointment yet, perhaps these statistics will inspire you:
14.6 million: The number of Americans expected to have diabetic retinopathy by the year 2050.
If you think it can't happen to you, think again! An alarming number of Americans—7.7 million as of 2010—have been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, and prevalence of the condition is on the rise. There's a good chance you'll be one of the additional 7 million Americans who develop the disease between now and 2050, so it's best to find out now when the disease is treatable, rather than several years down the road when you're nearly blind.
33%: The approximate percent of U.S. diabetics who have diabetic retinopathy.
Among diabetics, retinopathy is not at all a rare disease. Approximately one in every three diabetics have it. Even if you were tested for the condition in the past and your eyes were fine, there is a chance you've developed it more recently. The only way to know is to undergo an eye exam. If you're a non-Hispanic black American with diabetes, your chances of having retinopathy are even higher—about 39%.
5%: The percent of all worldwide cases of blindness caused by diabetic retinopathy.
Some causes of blindness, including accidents and birth defects, are rarely treatable. However, diabetic retinopathy is treatable. Therefore, it is pretty concerning that this condition is responsible for 1 out of every 20 cases of blindness worldwide. Blindness can be prevented by keeping your blood sugar under control, undergoing surgery when the condition is still minor, and by taking certain medications to keep blood lipid levels under control. However, you'll never know that you should be taking these treatment measures if you don't undergo regular eye exams to detect retinopathy.
As you can see from the numbers above, diabetic retinopathy is a common and serious problem. See your eye doctor regularly—there's really no reason to let this condition progress to the point of causing blindness. Find an eye doctor, like one from The Eye Depot, in your area today.