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Dangerous to your eyes

[01.05.2018]

Diabetes mellitus severely affects not only the metabolism, but often your eyesight as well. Among the dreaded secondary diseases of diabetes mellitus is damage to the blood vessels in the retina. The medical term that doctors use for this is diabetic retinopathy. The consequences include bleeding and circulatory disorders in the eye, or accumulation of fluid in the macula, called diabetic macular edema.

In Germany, 21.7 percent of all diabetics suffer from diabetic retinopathy. The damage to the retina is always symptomless to start with, and can lead to blindness during the course of the disease. About eleven percent of all cases of blindness in Germany are due to diabetes mellitus. This makes it one of the most common causes of blindness in Europe.

The earlier the diagnosis, the better the treatment outcome

"If symptoms occur, there is usually already advanced retinal damage," says Professor Dr. Thomas Reinhard, Medical Director of the Eye Center at the Medical Center - University of Freiburg.

"This is the reason why early diagnosis is important, if the patients are still not visually impaired and the treatment outlook is good," the doctor continues. Laser treatment can slow or halt the disease. Injecting agents directly into the eye has in recent years become an established treatment method for diabetic macular edema.

Those affected can do a great deal themselves to protect their eyesight: They should make sure they have good blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as a healthy lifestyle, and preferably not smoke. Those who are overweight should lose weight. "Also very important for all diabetics is an annual check-up with an ophthalmologist," advises Reinhard.

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