Diagnosed cases of diabetes continue to rise in our society and alarmingly, they continue to rise in children. The CDC’s research has found that people with diabetes have a 25 times higher risk of developing blindness than people who do not. This is especially concerning for children who have diabetes.

One of the leading causes of blindness is diabetic retinopathy. In a study done by the AAO found that children with type 2 diabetes are almost twice as likely to develop diabetic retinopathy than children with type 1 diabetes. We think it is important to understand that if you or your child have this disease, it gives you even more reason to visit the eye doctor at least once a year!

In order to keep our patients informed, we want to give some background on what diabetes is and how it affects your eyes, so you know what to pay attention to.

What is Diabetes?

A disease that causes your body not to make enough insulin or keeps your body from using the insulin it has the way that it should. This in turn will cause there to be too much sugar that stays in your bloodstream. If left untreated it can cause serious health problems like kidney disease, heart disease, and vision loss.

There are two types of diabetes:

Type 1:  Autoimmune reaction is said to be the cause. Basically, your body is attacking itself mistakenly and it keeps your body from creating the insulin needed to regulate your blood sugar. This is the type is usually diagnosed in children and teens. Daily insulin injections are required for this type of diabetes and there is no known way to prevent it.

Type 2: When your body doesn’t use the insulin it has well. This is the more common type of diabetes and is usually diagnosed later in life but can also be diagnosed in children and teens.

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetes can cause high blood pressure, which leads to Retinopathy eye disease. High blood sugar levels can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina. The damage caused can swell, leak or close the blood vessels which will stop blood from passing through. If left untreated this can cause blindness.

What are the signs to look for?

In order to diagnose eye disease early in yourself or your children, the best course of action is to have yearly eye exams. A yearly eye exam is going to catch issues early so they are easier to treat.

If you or your child has diabetes, some things to look for in between eye exams:

  • Spots or dark strings floating in your vision
  • Blurry vision
  • Difficulty seeing at night