Why diabetes is the leading cause of blindness

ECTOR COUNTY, TX (KWES) - Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the country and it's also a problem in Ector County. It affects about seven million Americans with diabetes which is why diabetics are four times more likely than the average person to get vision loss.

It happens when blood vessels start bleeding, especially in the eye. Without regular check-ups, it can lead to blurred vision or even blindness. A lot of these cases are due to family history, lifestyle or diet.

"There's a lot of diabetes in the area, lot of people don't know they have it," said Dr. Chase Jackson with Medical Center. "They'll come in and we see those changes in the eye and we get them in touch with a diabetes doctor so the blood sugar levels can get low and stabilized so you can have healthy eyes looking like this and never progressed to [a severe] level."

If you have type two diabetes, it's recommended to get an eye exam right away. If you have type one, you should get your eyes checked within the first five years of diagnosis. If you keep your blood sugar low, mild changes can go away. If not, there's types of treatment including laser procedures or taking out fluid from the eye and putting in new fluid.

"A patient who comes in might say they have the complaint of not seeing too well and needing new glasses but sometimes they have no complaint at all and you think how can you not complain [when there's bleeding]," said Jackson. "But you don't have pain receptors and depending on where the bleeding is, they might not notice a change in vision."

If you have diabetes and your blood sugar isn't kept low and stable, it puts your risk of getting cataracts and glaucoma and for it to progress quickly. Jackson recommends patients to go to a medical eye clinic and get checked generally every one to two years.

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