What You Need to Know About Diabetes and Eye Health

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Today is World Diabetes Day, which brings awareness to the disease which affects 347 million people across the globe. Diabetes is also a leading cause of blindness worldwide.

Dr. Eric Fonberg, member of the VSP Vision Care Canada Board of Directors, shares the connection between diabetes and eye health in this guest post.

Eye health can be adversely affected by diabetes and can lead to diabetic eye disease. Diabetic eye disease comprises a group of eye conditions that affect people with diabetes. These conditions include diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema (DME), cataract, and glaucoma.

Diabetic eye disease may develop insidiously to a point at which damage and adverse impact on vision may be irreversible.

As an emergency physician, I have seen patients present to my emergency department with ophthalmic complications of significant diabetic eye disease, when they were unaware that they had advanced diabetic eye disease.

Prior to that, I practiced family medicine where I would see many patients with diabetic eye disease.  Patients are more likely to be at risk if they not controlling blood glucose levels.  Even with optimal control, patients may still go on to develop diabetic eye disease. Irreversible damage may have been prevented with good blood glucose management and regular eye examinations.

Regular eye examinations are strongly recommended in order to diagnose and treat diabetic eye disease in the earliest possible stages.  Such examinations may prevent complications such as partial vision loss, or complete loss of visual acuity. Other lifestyle changes like diet and exercise can also help patients manage or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

About Eric Fonberg  MD MPH MBA CCFP(EM) C.Dir

eric fonbergEric Fonberg has a medical degree from the University of Western Ontario, a Masters in Public Health from Harvard University, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Toronto. He is also a Certified Chartered Director (C.Dir) with a diploma from the DeGroot School of Business at McMaster University and the Conference Board of Canada. Eric is currently in active clinical practice in a large community hospital in Toronto, Canada

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