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What is Glaucoma?


Glaucoma is a disease related to a build-up of pressure within the eye that can damage the optic nerve, which carries the images you see through your eyes to the brain. If glaucoma is untreated, it can lead to permanent damage to vision and, eventually, blindness. Initially, it can occur without any symptoms you notice.

Glaucoma is one reason why an annual, comprehensive eye exam is essential in catching the disease early before it progresses.
There are two major types of glaucoma:

  1. Primary open-angle glaucoma: This type of glaucoma is the most common type. It shows up as a painless buildup of pressure in the eye. Fluid is created in the eye, and when it reaches the right pressure, it normally flows out slowly through a channel. However, if the eye’s channel gets blocked, the liquid can build up. The reason this happens is not clear, but blocked blood vessels inside the eye and inflammatory conditions can be contributing factors. 
  2. Angle-closure glaucoma: Also called “closed-angle glaucoma” or “narrow-angle glaucoma”, this type of glaucoma happens when the iris of the eye is very close to their drainage angle (where the fluid drains from the front of the eye). The iris is the colored part of your eye that controls the light getting into your eye. The iris can sometimes block the drainage angle, causing a quick rise in eye pressure, resulting in an emergency.

Although there may be no initial symptoms, as it progresses, it can cause:

What is my risk of developing glaucoma? 

People with certain risk factors have a higher chance of developing glaucoma. Having a comprehensive eye exam is the best way to determine your risk of developing glaucoma. Here are some risk factors to keep in mind:

How is glaucoma treated?
Glaucoma treatment usually begins with prescription eyedrops. These may help decrease eye pressure by improving how fluid drains from your eye or reducing the amount of fluid your eye makes. Other treatment options can include laser therapy and various surgical procedures depending on the type and severity of glaucoma.
How is glaucoma diagnosed, and what can you do?
In addition to a comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor will evaluate your:

Be diligent about following your eye doctor’s recommended treatment plan. It is essential to take your eye drops as prescribed, keep your regularly scheduled appointments, and update your doctor with any changes or concerns in your vision.

Get More information about glaucoma

Your eye care provider will be able to recommend the best course of treatment Find more resources to protect your eye health.



 
 

It's easy to take your eyesight for granted.


But if you imagine losing your
sight, it's devastating.

Diabetes is the leading cause of vision loss in people 18-64 years old. And there are often no obvious signs or symptoms.

But the great news is an annual routine eye exam could prevent 95% of vision loss caused by diabetes.

Take control of your eye health

 
 
Dr. Nishan Pressley, DO, a VSP network doctor
 

Eye Doctor Saves Patient with Diabetes from Possibly Going Blind


– Dr. Nishan Pressley, OD, a VSP network doctor.



 
 
 

Step 01


Know Your Risk for Diabetes


Many people have prediabetes or diabetes for years without knowing it because early symptoms can be so easy to miss. That’s why an annual comprehensive eye exam is critical for prevention and early detection of diabetes-related eye complications. Diabetes affects the tiny blood vessels in the back of your eye, which your eye doctor can examine during an eye exam—often times long before you ever even experience other symptoms.

Wondering if you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes? We’re here to help. Take our free, 60-second online risk test—and if you are at risk for diabetes, talk to your health care team about getting tested.


Learn your risk

 

Step 02


Know the Warning Signs of Diabetic Eye Disease


Some diabetic eye diseases have no signs or symptoms until they are too obvious to ignore, which might present as:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dark spots or "holes"
  • Flashes of light
  • Seeing an increased amount of floaters
  • Poor night vision

This is why regular comprehensive eye exams are so important—to help avoid vision loss and potentially catch these conditions early.

Understand diabetic eye disease

 

Step 03


Take Control of Your Eye Health


Routine eye exams can help identify problems that when treated can prevent or delay vision loss due to diabetic eye complications in many people with diabetes. Unfortunately, many people with diabetes don't get their eyes examined regularly and are diagnosed too late.

Schedule an annual comprehensive eye exam with your eye doctor at least once a year so they can detect any problems early and treat them.

Find an eye care professional

And be sure to follow the other steps for healthy eyes, as well.

Take control of your eye health

 
 
 

Diabetic Eye Diseases


Some diabetic eye diseases have no obvious symptoms–but the damage done by high blood glucose levels can be caught early during a routine eye exam.

 

Diabetic Retinopathy


High blood sugar levels can cause damage to blood vessels in a part of your eye called the retina. There are various stages of diabetic eye disease. Diabetic Retinopathy is the most common and serious type of eye problem associated with diabetes.

Symptoms
Often none. Also common: blurred vision, distorted vision, impaired colors, seeing spots, or vision loss


Treatment
Good diabetes management including controlled blood glucose levels. Other treatment may include medication via injections or eyedrops, laser treatment, or surgery.


How to catch early
Annual dilated eye exam


Find an eye care professional

Diabetic Macular Edema


Diabetic Macular Edema is when the tiny blood vessels in the retina leak fluid which builds up and causing swelling. This distorts vision and may lead to permanent vision loss.

Symptoms
Blurry, distorted, or wavy central vision. Color perception may also appear washed out.


Treatment
Good diabetes management including controlled blood glucose levels. Other treatment may include medication via injections or eyedrops, laser treatment, or surgery.


How to catch early
Annual dilated eye exam


Find an eye care professional

Glaucoma


Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes damage to your optic nerve resulting in irreversible vision loss and is more common in people with diabetes.

Symptoms
Often none. Sometimes headaches, eye pain, blurred vision, watery/red eyes, halos, vision loss


Treatment
Good diabetes management including controlled blood glucose levels. Other treatment may include medication via injections or eyedrops, laser treatment, or surgery.


How to catch early
Annual dilated eye exam


Find an eye care professional

Cataracts


Usually associated with age, cataracts are more common and occur earlier in people diagnosed with diabetes. With cataracts, the lens in your eye becomes cloudy due to the breakdown of proteins in the lens.

Symptoms
Blurred vision, hazy vision, halos around lights particularly at night


Treatment
Cataract surgery to replace the lens near the surface of the eye.


How to catch early
Annual dilated eye exam


Find an eye care professional

 
Couple standing outside
 

Know Your Risk for Diabetes


Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have prediabetes—blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. There are often no clear symptoms of prediabetes so you may have it and not know it. In fact, many people have prediabetes or diabetes for years without knowing it because early symptoms can be so easy to miss. That’s why an annual comprehensive eye exam is critical for the early detection and prevention of diabetes-related eye complications. Diabetes affects the tiny blood vessels in the back of your eye, which your eye doctor can examine during an eye exam—often times these exams detect problems before you ever even experience other symptoms.

Wondering if you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes? We’re here to help. Take our free, 60-second online risk test—and if you are at risk for diabetes, talk to your health care team about getting tested.


Take the Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test

 
 
 
Man holding glasses in away from his face
 

Take Control of Your Eye Health


Routine eye exams can identify problems that when treated can prevent or delay vision loss in many people with diabetes. Unfortunately many people with diabetes don’t get their eyes examined regularly and are diagnosed too late. Be sure to schedule a comprehensive eye exam every year.

Schedule appointments with your eye doctor at least once a year so they can detect any problems early and treat them.

Find an eye care professional

And be sure to follow the other steps for healthy eyes, as well.


Take control of your eye health

 
 
 

Take Control of Your Eye Health


Most importantly, early detection by a professional could save your vision. There are other steps that can help, too.

 
Man getting an eye exam

Avoid vision loss and potentially catch conditions early.

Snellen chart

Routine exams should be done at least once a year.

 
 
 

Get Routine Eye Exams


It’s important to get a comprehensive eye exam with dilation every year to allow for a more thorough examination of your eye and to catch conditions early, before permanent damage is done.

Some diabetic eye diseases have no signs or symptoms until they are too obvious to ignore, which might present as:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dark spots or "holes"
  • Flashes of light
  • Seeing an increased amount of floaters
  • Poor night vision

This is why routine exams are so important—to help avoid vision loss and potentially catch these conditions early.

Eye health benefits are determined by your health care plan. Consider your network to learn your options when making an appointment.

Schedule appointments with your eye doctor at least once a year so they can detect any problems early and treat them.

 

Find an eye care professional

American Diabetes Association does not endorse any product or service.

Woman getting an eye exam
 
 

Monitor Your Blood Sugar


When your blood sugar is too high, it can affect the shape of your eye’s lens, causing blurry vision, which goes back to normal after your blood sugar stabilizes. High blood sugar can also damage the blood vessels in your eyes. Maintaining good control of your blood sugar helps prevent these problems.

Glucose Meter – Lancing Device – Test Strip
 
 

Monitor Your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol


High blood pressure and high cholesterol can put you at greater risk for eye disease and vision loss. Keeping both under control will not only help your eyes but your overall health.

Stethoscope
 
 

Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices


Smoking increases your risk of diabetic retinopathy and other eye conditions, but you can reduce that risk by quitting smoking. Regular exercise also has phenomenal health benefits—it can control diabetes and improve eye health.

Women in  Exercise Class
 
Couple standing outside
 

Know Your Risk for Diabetes


Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have prediabetes—blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. There are no clear symptoms of prediabetes so you may have it and not know it. In fact, many people have prediabetes or diabetes for years without knowing it because early symptoms can be so easy to miss. That’s why an annual comprehensive eye exam is critical for prevention and early detection of diabetes-related eye complications. Diabetes affects the tiny blood vessels in the back of your eye, which your eye doctor can examine during an eye exam—often times long before you ever even experience other symptoms

If you haven’t been told you have diabetes and are wondering if you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes, we’re here to help. Take our free, 60-second online risk test—and if you are at risk for diabetes, talk to your health care team about getting tested.


Take the Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test

 
 
Person's eye
 

Know the Warning Signs of Diabetic Eye Disease


Some diabetic eye diseases have no signs until they are too obvious to ignore, which might present as:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dark spots or "holes"
  • Flashes of light
  • Seeing an increased amount of floaters
  • Poor night vision

This is why routine exams are so important–to help avoid vision loss and potentially catch these conditions early.


Understand diabetic eye disease

 
 
 

It’s Easy to Take Eyesight for Granted


But when your patients with diabetes or prediabetes lose their sight, it’s devastating.

 

Diabetes is the leading cause of vision loss in people 18-64 years old. And there are often no obvious signs or symptoms.

Learn how to look closer at your patients' eye health and take control with these resources:

Coming soon: Get continuing medical education credit!

 
 
Dr. Nishan Pressley, OD, a VSP network doctor
 

Eye Doctor Saves Patient with Diabetes from Possibly Going Blind


– Dr. Nishan Pressley, OD, a VSP network doctor.



 
 
Couple standing outside
 

Know Your Patients' Risk for Diabetes


If a patient has a diagnosis of type 1 or type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, communicate the risk of eye conditions

For patients without a diagnosis, consider the American Diabetes Association’s 60-second online Risk Test to measure type 2 diabetes risk.


Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test

 
 
Person's eye
 

Know the Warning Signs of Diabetic Eye Disease


Some diabetic eye diseases have no signs or symptoms until they are too obvious to ignore, which might present as:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dark spots or "holes"
  • Flashes of light
  • Seeing an increased amount of floaters
  • Poor night vision

This is why routine eye exams are so important for your patients with diabetes and prediabetes to help avoid vision loss and potentially catch these conditions early.


More about these diseases

 
 
Man holding glasses in away from his face
 

Help Your Patients Take Control of Their Eye Health


Please communicate to your patients the importance of annual dilated eye exams.

If you’re a Primary Care Provider, help patients manage their risk for diabetes-related eye disease by providing referrals to get routine eye exams.

Managing diabetes is crucial, as is quitting smoking.


Take control of your eye health

 
 
 

The Latest

Stay up to date on news and tips you need to maintain your eye health, prevent vision loss and understand your risk for eye disease from experts you can trust—and others just like you.

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Ophthalmologist? Optometrist? Retina Specialist? What’s the Difference?

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Read more

 
 
 

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American Diabetes Association®, VSP® Vision Care and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. are collaborating on a public health initiative to save sight in those living with diabetes. The multi-year campaign will raise awareness of the critical role eye exams can play in early detection and prevention of diabetes-related eye disease.

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