Let’s start with a story — Anil, a man in his 30’s was happy to have a perfect vision. While most of his colleagues wore spectacles or contact lenses, he considered himself lucky to have the perfect eyesight. One day, while driving himself home from work, he suddenly felt that signages in front of him began to blur. An eye check the following week, revealed that he not only had diabetes, but also suffered from an eye disease called diabetic retinopathy.

In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, small blood vessels in the eye swell. As the disease progresses, some vessels that nourish the retina become blocked. Abnormal new blood vessels may begin to grow on the surface of the retina to replace the blocked vessels. The new vessels, however, have thin, fragile walls. If they leak blood, severe vision loss and even blindness can result. Anil was lucky after all: He experienced symptoms, which led him to prompt treatment and the prevention of significant vision loss. Diabetes is a growing epidemic that carries the risk of glaucoma, cataracts and the most common diabetic eye disease, retinopathy.

The only way that diabetic retinopathy can be diagnosed is through a comprehensive eye exam. Diabetic retinopathy can begin without any warning symptoms, which makes a yearly comprehensive eye exam even more critical for diabetics. No one likes to consider the possibility of developing diabetes or becoming blind from eye disease. When you are proactive about your health, you can protect yourself. All you need is the knowledge that regular, comprehensive eye and physical examinations provide, and the willingness to follow your health care providers’ recommendations.