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Diabetes and Eye Health

Article by Barbara Stepko, AARP

“Not paying attention to your blood sugar can lead to a lot more than some high digits on your bathroom scale. There’s a laundry list of health complications that come from lofty glucose levels — among them, nerve damage in your hands and feet, kidney damage, heart disease and stroke. And then there are your eyes. People who have diabetes — Type 1 or Type 2 — are at risk for a disease called diabetic retinopathy, in which consistently elevated blood-sugar levels damage the blood vessels in the retina, the thin layer of tissue located in the back of your eye.

Diabetic retinopathy is sneaky. In its early stages, you may not even know you have it. But as it worsens, your vision takes a hit. It may fluctuate between clear and blurry. You may get floaters (spots or dark strings in your vision), poor night vision, dark or empty areas in your vision, or colors that appear faded. Left unchecked, it can lead to vision loss. In fact, diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes and is the most frequent cause of new cases of blindness among adults ages 20 to 74.”

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